Where 2 are Gathered

Community Part 3

I am back swimming at the YMCA. Swimming is for introverts. We don’t have to talk to anyone and we are left to our own thoughts guilt free. That is,most of the time. The other day I saw a couple of ladies leisurely swimming together in a lane talking together and having the best time connecting and solving the world’s problems. I chatted with them a minute and found out they met at the Y and became fast friends. They mentioned not everyone likes to swim so it’s easier finding a swimming friend while swimming.

5 Reasons a Senior Community Needs a Therapy Pool | HydroWorx

The energy and joy is always there when we see two people of any age walking, working, sitting, praying together. This world needs the gathering of two or more more than ever. Since the Covid and enforced solitude and inactivity we have seen less and less of the gathering of friends.

I came across the term “lock down fatigue.” Lock down fatigue might not be what you think. The author was not referring to being tired of stuck at home alone, rather she was observing the malaise of being a little too comfortable with staying in our jammies, sipping our favorite beverage on our favorite chair without the motivation to clean up, brush our hair or teeth because after all we were not going anywhere and no one was going to see us anyway.

Ah yes, the comfort of not going anywhere or seeing anyone, much less ministering to anyone ( after all, I don’t want to spread the Covid) took hold of me too. It was like a luxiourious blanket to be able to sit by my fire spending a little more time in my devotions rather than rushing out the door in my swim suit to work out on a dark cold morning. When I am alone, I don’t deal with the tension of “fitting it all in”, I can complete a thought, start a project and finish it maybe before I have to clean it up before company. I don’t have to worry if my jeans are little snug, because, well, I can wear my stretchy work clothes. I don’t have to worry about not saying the “right thing” because I am not saying anything. I can just relax.

But like anything, it gets to be a habit and I get sloppy. The sloppier I get, the more unproductive I feel. I know that I am getting lazy. I am becoming the sloth. And I am getting a little depressed but the thought of getting out is harder than the weeks before lock down. “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep..(Proverbs 19:15)My thoughts make more sense in their lack of precision because I don’t have to organize them for someone else to refine. I get a little more self absorbed. Love is becoming an theory for other people not an action for me.

Relationships take work. One also gets bumped bruised and loses oneself in the process. It’s like the fingerprint. My finger prints are getting less and less distinctive. My parents hardly have finger prints at all. Yes, they are very hard workers, unlike someone who has a disablity where they cannot use their hands. Most likely they will have distinctive fingerprints yet. My parents have full and rich lives with a lot of adventures and great memories and plans.

I have to push myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t wait until I feel like it or until it’s safe. There is always an element of the unknown and danger in a broken world, but it’s really not as bad as what the media can imply. Besides the more I do the more empowered I am to be a part of the community and influence for the good.

If you haven’t been connecting with people start small. Maybe a phone call today, a coffee date tomorrow or a walk on the next nice day.

The other part of flourishing in a community of two is not taking for granted the community you have with that one person you have in your home if you are an empty nester, or just have a small household of people. More and more people live like strangers and don’t even practice hospitality with those they live with. Make meal times special. Eat togther. Try new dishes. So what if it doesn’t turn out. No one will starve and next time it will be easier. Cook together and clean up together. No one ever died while filling the dishwasher or clearing their plate. Do a little project together. Plant flowers. Read books and then share interesting parts with eachother. Do music together. Pray together. Plan outings – even during the Covid crisis people could go for little walks- now that we are getting used to it – now more than ever get out and walk.

Brothers
Growing together
Celebrating 60 years of community.
Brother and sister: best friends for now.

Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered, there I am also…” Such simple words, yet so powerful for an abudant life close to God.

Communities: Something for Everyone-Part 2

The surprising thing about this season of lock down, thinking that people were supposed to stay apart to avoid disease, the opposite happened. Pent up anger and frustration built up. Divisions widened. On going social problems only intensified until they blew up and produced more anger, greater divides, frustration, injustice, futile and destructive protests, insanity and death.

Thanks to Zoom we survived: my family, my book club, my writing club, church and Bible Study Fellowsip. Fill in the blank. I hope you had a community to join. It’s supposed to put years onto your life. We need eachother, even introvers.The Science is there. I think it is one thing Christians, agnostics, liberals and conservatives alike can agree on. It’s the internal brokeness that keeps us apart these days. No lock down, no government mandate could keep us apart. Maybe technology difficulties or ignorance could. But we still had our phone and the mail did go through …eventually.

Try a Silent Zoom Meeting | Forge

Isolation brings lonliness, misunderstanding and stunted growth emotionally and spiritually. Without “iron sharpening iron” we become dull, narrow minded, self-focused, bored and prejudice. It is through being with those in need or those who might not agree with you, working out through issues because you have to, rather than stagnating in one’s opinion that we grow and ultimately learn how to love.

Life does seem more simple alone and there are times when solitude are necessary for growth too, but eventually we need to get out of ourselves. I enjoyed the solitude but thanks to my many commitments I was compelled to continue with participating in my many communities. Now the divisions in the culture seem ever wider but I don’t feel isolated or defeated. We get together in our communities, with our foilbles, political views, different values, and perspectives and are able to find common ground. We influence eachother, grow in patience toward eachother, but most of all we not we are not alone without purpose. Relationship is existence.

But after shut down, our social muscles might be a little stiff. It might take some intentional flexing to find some sommunity. To inspire, I am sharing a couple of groups that have kept me going during the shut down, but also helped me keep a balanced perspective to social issues that are not as simple as our media would like us to believe. That is probably why my two groups I am featuring have to do with words. Words form and express ideas. They give us perspective, steps to solultions. They can inspire or depress. They can help create problems or help form solutions. It’s could to practice them in a safe community.

If you aspire to write or do already, and aren’t innodated with publishing opportunites yet, a writing group might be a next step for you. I joined the Blue Water’s Writers before I knew what they were called. I really didn’t know what a writing club was all about. It felt like jumping into a pool of deep water, not really knowing how well I could swim. Really, that is what it was for me, finding out if I could even write anymore. My grocery lists were not even legible, how could a paragraph be evaluated without some people who became friends. As a group we meet same time, same place. The setting is something we can count on. Many of us travel, some babysit, work or care for loved ones. Without that consistancy we would be less effective. We start with a little devotional that someone has written, then a designated leader leads us through our chapter of a book on writing and we close with readings. One can participate as much or as little as one wants but as with most things, the more you put in , the more you will get out of it.

My next community that inspires me is my bookclub. This particular club does not read the latest best seller. On the contrary most of our books are old from the 400’s up to 1990 or so. All of us have the desire to read books that we would not otherwise read but have made their mark on thinking, literature and even the history of our world. Many of them would be considered the most influentual books of Western Civilization. This group meets on Zoom now thanks to Covid and Michigan winters. We used to meet in homes and our scheduled was flexible. Consequently we don’t meet as often as we could but we have grown and been enriched. Some of the books we have read include: Moby Dick, Gulag Achipeligo, Confessions by Augustine and Meditations by DeCartes. Our book list comes from Susan Wise Bauer, author of the Well Educated Mind.

If a joining a group sounds like something you have intended on doing but haven’t yet and don’t know where to start, look to your local library. I know ours does have book discussions and writing groups that form. Soon and maybe even now fabric stores and crafts stores might advertise crafting nights or groups. Our college and career kids have an official board game night. Then for the more active the hiking and biking groups are a great way to get to know people. Sometimes the group just isn’t what you are looking for, that’s ok, move on but don’t give up.

My favorite and most stable of all communities is my family and my church. Location and season of life sometimes affective the vitality of these communities, but don’t give up. It helps to have habits for meeting and purpose, even with family sometimes. For us we have had to rely on the FaceTime for connecting at times but a regular time and even a list of questions to ask or something to share keep these times going. If you can meet in person, maybe it’s meal, walk, work project or just a weekly cup of coffee to touch down and stay connected.

Whatever it is, don’t go alone. Life is too short.

Community During Covid and Anytime

In the last year, thanks to the abscence of community, we all had time to think more community- what it was and wasn’t, if we had it or not, who we wanted in it or not, and did we even want it or not, and was it worth the risk.

Two old women sitting on a bench in the park drinking coffee Stock Photo -  1672753 | StockUnlimited

The inconsistancies by politicians, health care workers, old people and young people became confusing, until it was all anyone could talk about to just get a feel. But the bottom line is that community is inevetible, even if it is your pet or just the opinion monger on the TV or internett – Relationship is existance.

But this isn’t a blog about MY opinion thoughts or actions about community, rather I hope it is an encouragement to enrich your community expereince if you live alone.

I have four entries exploring the idea and would enjoy any suggestions in the comments or even a plug for your blog – because that has been a new and inspirational community for me in this season.

I noticed as we attempted to stay safe and keep others safe that we got more creative and even more healthful in our community seeking. I went for walks more with friends and family more instead of meeting in coffee shops and sitting. Several times we found ourselves sitting at picnic tables in 40 degree weather for any hour with blankets around us.

Two Old Female Friends Laugh Chat And Catch Up Over A Cup Of Coffee  High-Res Stock Photo - Getty Images

At first we did not know how to visit my aging mother in law at the home, but we bit the bullet, arranged a weekly time, took blankets, folding chairs and hot cups of coffee in order to visit through the screen!Who cares if it wasn’t ideal, it gave her something to look forward to and it really ended up being an adventure. ( The irony is that despite all the precautions we took, she still died of Covid because the health care workers carried it in).

Coronavirus: Families find new ways to see loved ones in nursing homes

The children are told to “stay outside” to play with their friends. Ah, now those are words that we haven’t heard since before the video games came out! Our children’s playmates(and now my children’s children) are much easier to tolerate when they are playing hide and seek outdoors than in the living room!

18 Fun Outdoor Games for Kids | Parents

My mother took her card table and folding chairs in her trunk to facilitate coffee with her friends outdoors.

My favorite was a group of old friends who took kerosene heaters and drove their scooters to the donut shop. Everyday in my home time you can see this gathering in the parking lot on Main Street!

Covid surviors.(This was a drive by photo .)

Now that we are opening up again and all the luxuries of inside entertainment lure us away from the communities that we value don’t forget your real friends!

Aging Alone Doesn't Have to be Lonely | Blog | Forest Grove, Or

Poetry for the Soul

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

“Here are some books of poetry.” An unpretentious woman handed me two paperback books. I took them to be polite. I had not read or cared about poetry for years. My college literature classes had dissected the soul out of the beauty, but each time I opened these humble self-published volumes my eyes would fall on a little verse that spoke vlumes to my tired heart.

Photo by Maksim Romashkin on Pexels.com

Dorothy’s poems are authentic songs of a soul to God. Take them for yourself. Savor the beauty of the soul’s song to the Sovereign Creator and Savior.

Grace is a Diamond

Grace is a diamond, shining bright
Against the backdrop of our night.
Grace is a star, a-twinking high
Far in the vastness of the sky.
But Grace is more, whose course does run
Across our world, a mighty sun
That warms and lighten all below
Wherever Mercy does bestow
Life where the deadness was before
For Pow'r has Might, but Grace has more.
January 2015
Into Your Hands
Into Your hand, my faithful God, I place my broken heart.
My foes are fierce, and they have shot me with a fiery dart.
You know the truth of what I say and why this man does lie.
My God, deliver me, I pray, or else, Lord I may die.
Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com
Built Upon the Cornerstone
I am a little pebble, but You the Cornerstone.
Thoughfallen in my faith, You chose me for Your own.
Upon You built and founded, dependent on Your Grace
You placed me in my setting that I might see Your Face.

A tiny stone and worthless, and yet it pleased You well
To rescue me from darkness, redeem my soul from Hell.
Though now in current weakness, still muddy from the mine,
Eventually in Glory, I shall forever shine.

Image result for a stone church in the sun

(These selections are taken from Dorothy Young’s book, Loved from Eternity.)

Children’s Book for Adults

Mother Bruce (Mother Bruce, Book 1) (Mother Bruce Series, 1): Higgins, Ryan  T., Higgins, Ryan T.: 9781484730881: Amazon.com: Books

“Bruce was a bear who lived all by himself. ” “He was a grump.” Well, who isn’t when one lives for themselves. It’s not that Bruce’s aloneness made him grumpy but he only liked one thing: eggs to eat. His loneliness came from being a consumer.

Isn’t that how it goes? The more we grasp and grab the unhappier and emptier we become.

This little lesson isn’t told but with amusing content and intriguing illustrations it is shown.(It kept the grandkids entertained over the weekly virtual call.)

As the story goes Bruce’s egg find ends up hatching into four troublesome goslings. Ah..poor Bruce!” He becomes a victim of mistaken identity!” HE was now MAMA! Even when some parents want the role, the incessant cry “Mama!” can be disturbing and annoying with one sweet child much less four goslings!” We can empathize. Ah yes, another step as Bruce gives up his desires to take care of another’s need.

Mother Bruce | Inside Of A Dog

Well, practically speaking, Bruce could have munched up those annoying, demanding goslings and been done with it. He did think about it. However, the children’s fun story book would have turned into a horror story that would not have made the best seller list. No matter how progressive and tolerant we have become, anyone can see that avicide was beyond reasonable humaness, or ursine ( pertaining to a bear) in this case.

Bruce becomes Humane, even though he is still rather grumpy. He tries to return them to their home, but they came back to him. He goes through an anger phase, then he “makes the best of it.” I won’t spoil this. You must get this book and enjoy it yourself and if you have a “gosling” in your life, make the best of it and share it with them to. It will put a smile on your face to share something with someone else, no matter how small.

Ryan T Higgins Portfolio — Rodeen Literary

I am not sure if Ryan T. Higgins, the talented author and illustrator, meant for me to get so much out of his children book, but a good story is good because it has more than meets the eye. He does YouTubes on illustrating as well-something fun and new to investigate if you need a Covid pick-me-up.

Surviving and Thriving in Winter during Covid

Covid shut downs just started last March. Who would have thought we would still be shut down? Well I did not complete visualize it. January and February in Michigan might as well be a shut down. Actually, the shut down is a relief as we don’t have to go out on the roads so much. However, the cold and boredom that comes with gray skies can get one down. Here is my “go to” list for those gray days.

Things Not to do:

Social Media

Watching the News

Self Medicate

Despair

Things to do :

Plan a trip. Do your research. I prefer to get books and videos from the library rather than reading short articles on the computer screen, but it helps to get a little thumbnail overview from the computer before diving in. Look up the place you want to go on a map. Look up the flight options. What else do you need? Hotels, places to eat, things to do? Make a list with the options.

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

Read that book, that you have always wanted to read or that you did not- but then get a friend to join you. Right now our group is tackling Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn. It is the abridgement by Edward E Erickson, Jr. Yes, it’s a little heavy, but I am counting my blessings! I am also reading Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster, Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa Alcott and Isabella Graham by herself.

Call a friend.

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com
Write a letter or card to someone in need. Write to someone you just want to, who you have  not seen or talked to in a while.
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Try a new recipe -if you like to cook

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Go for a walk- no matter the weather. Yes, you can survive. As a rule, I don’t really like exercise or the cold, but am always glad after I go out-even if it is just to come in again.

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

Tackle one chore you keep putting off.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Learn something new: take it one step at a time. Blogging was a new thing for me and I’m still trying to figure it out. I have a friend who is learning to tap dance – and she is over 60. If it were not for Covid, we would be too busy racing around, chasing our tails in the same rut and would not feel the freedom to try something new.

Pin by Tracy Frederickson on Tap Stuff | Dance shoes, Tap dancing shoes, Tap  dance photography

Pick up a hobby: photography, piano, guitar, woodwork, sewing, craft, … At first it seems overwhelming, but I break things down into small goals with low expectations for outcomes. For knitting, I told myself, just one row a day and I have managed to complete three to four projects a year. Not a lot, but satisfying. I, also, use friends, instruction books and YouTube for help when I get stuck.

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

Re-decorate or rearrange a room or space, whether it is the mancave or sewing room, maybe just a nook that is usually overlooked.

Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com

Take time to just sit and look out at nature, whether it be morning or evening.

Poetry for Our Times

In the midst of the chaos of our times and the histrionics of our media, I have turned to the Word of God for stability and distraction.

Two little ones sweeping up glass after bullies made mayhem in the streets of our city.

Many of us interact with Scripture in ways to impress it to our hearts and heads. Some memorize. Some rewrite it in language of today. Others, most talented in my view, turn God’s poetry into poetry for their hearts. I have such a friend. I do not know her very well but she has the gift of writing her heart into poetry. Many times she turns scripture into poetry to minister to her heart and ours as well. Her name is D. E. Young. She has written and published two books of her poetry. Ms. Young prefaces her first collection In Joy and In Sorrow with these words: The Christian in affliction should not think that he is the first of the Lord’s people to pass this way…It is my hope and prayer that this volume with be an encouragement to the Lord’s people…” Her next book, published in 2017 is called Loved from Eternity. Her pastor recommends this volume with these words: I urge to listen for His voice speaking in these faith-offerings composed for the sake of His bride, the church. May you know that He fills those who have been emptied.”

The poem from Ms. Young that I share today is one that she wrote recently in light of the turmoil we have all been witnessing in the United States. Knowing that we in the US have truly experienced unprecedented ease of millenials, we hardly know what to do or how to think when things don’t quite go our way. May these words redirect our focus and reorder our affections.

From Psalm 2
Though rulers, newly risen
Against the Heavens rage,
And seek to cast off Heaven's rule
They cannot disengage
Or thrwart His hand or ward it off,
Who laughs at them in Might.
For God has set His Son, the King
Upon the highest height,
And from that Throne, He rules all things,
Both those that are His own
And those that He will yet destroy,
For to Him, they're unknown
So strut in vain, you little men,
Against the King, you can not win:
But rather seek His favor now
And humbly boy to Him again.
(January 21, 2021)

Grandpa Reads

“Grandpa, are you going to read us a story tonight?”

Grandpa reading exciting story to his ... | Stock image | Colourbox

Unfortunately, Grandpa’s story time isn’t that cozy as we live 15 hours away, but we inevitably hear the question every time we FaceTime our Florida grandkids.

The story time started out of desperation to calm the chaos that ensued with a couple of small competing siblings over the cell phone during facetime. In order to quiet and distract, I grabbed a book and said,”Would you like a story?” And the tradition began.

Now the trick is to have fun and good books on hand. But thanks to the local library and Amazon, we can achieve that small goal.

There are guidelines: not too long, not to short, not too serious, not too silly, not too many pictures, not to few, not too wordy, but enough. It needs to be just right. And that changes as the children grow and need a little more but not too much.

Best Bear Books for Kids ⋆ Take Them Outside

Then there is the production management. It’s a good thing Grandpa is mechanically minded because one needs to hold the book at just the right spot and to have enough hands to hold the phone and turn the page! It can be be done. That is also a small area where I can help.

Here are a couple of suggestions of books that have been successful for us:

The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman
Are You My Mother? - - Fat Brain Toys

Another author we have enjoyed is Jan Brett. Her illustrations are captivating and her unique way of telling old fairy tales are fun and unpredictable.

Books - JAN BRETT

We can always rely on the old favorites from the Berenstain Bear series and the Mercer Mayer.

Berenstain Bears Book Packages | https://www.doylestownbookshop.com/
Just Grandma and Me (A Golden Look-Look Book) by Mercer Mayer

In addition to the advantage of a treasured tradition and memory for the grandkids, this little activity gives the parents a little break too.

I hope you find this useful and inspiring. If you have any other suggestions for books or activities to enrich long distance relationships with grandchildren or young children do share in the comments.

Happy Reading with Love. . .

Fog and the Almond Tree

As Central Valley fog disappears, fruit, nut crops decline

Life is made up of seasons. Our lives and the lives of the trees and flowers. January can be a hard month, a month of forced rest after a frenzy of gifting and partying for the holidays. Many of us resist the quiet and wonder what’s wrong with us or complain about the dreary weather then plan a trip to sunshine so we never have to stop, think or recharge. Covid has put the brakes on our lives as well and now we sit in a fog wondering what to do next…

Alone in the Fog by Michael Overbeck Photography - Stocksy United

I grew up in a farming region in north central California, where the sun doesn’t always shine. It is an almond growing region. Although, now the almonds are being replaced with more and more houses and strip malls, my memories and the life lessons remain.

Blue Diamond Almonds Bloom Report for February 23, 2014

 IN an almond growing region, the rhythm of the seasons include one to three months of fog. It closes the Valleys in. It is common in the Sacramento and SanJoaquin Valleys of central California.   This is not just fog, this is called Tule Fog. It is life giving.

As tule fog disappears, Central Valley crops at risk | Modesto Bee
Tule fog in Modesto almond orchard

Technically Tule fog is a thick ground fog that is called radiation fog. It is thick and wet. Sometimes it is so thick one cannot see across the street and it can last all day, sometimes for days. It condenses with high relative humidity, calm winds and rapidly cooling at night. It could be so wet and heavy, I remember having wet hair after walking to or from school.

 For us, members of a farming community, it marked a season of rest. The fog generally rolled in after harvest. As kids we were  relieved that we did not have to work as much after school or on the holidays. (Although it was normal to devote a few  Christmas vacation days to picking up brush after the pruning.) The fog was a harbinger of the holiday celebrations that one could wholly enjoy when the work lightened up. We loved the Thanksgiving and Christmas when we would see  a lot of relatives from out of town. Our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins had time to visit and play with us. Despite the wet fog, It would not be unusual for us to go out and play tag, hide and seek or ditch ’em doorbell.

Because of the mountains that surround our farming valley, it can stay through January. It can burn off a bit with the noon sun but not always. I am not sure if it contributes to depression for some people. My family did not seem to worry about it. If anything it is a time to get caught up on other chores and maybe have longer evenings of rest.

For  people who want to go, go, go. The fog is a hassle. It hampers visibility for drivers and is the cause of many car pile ups. Now many people who live in  the farming valley go to the coast, Hawaii or Arizona in order to escape the quiet and avoid a dormant season. A few years ago the fog lessened. Agriculture experts began to publish studies that show that the fog was actually essential for a good crop. It provides the Almond and other trees  with a necessary dormant season with moisture before their early February buds  emerged  to blossom beautifying the valley with life and color.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1134.jpg

To this day I love the smell of the fog. It smells fresh, moist and quiet. It reflects the life giving soil. It blankets  me with memories of a slower time when we moved with the seasons of life.

This picture of fog teaches us a lesson about our souls. Sometimes after the frenetic  seasons we can feel a little depressed, a little foggy. Our culture is addicted to busyness. I think of the almonds tree and wonder if we embrace our quiet times or dormant seasons as a time of rest rather than boredom, then we could bloom early and have a more fruit in the harvest season…Jesus said, I came that ye might have rest. I give rest to the weary.

2021

How do I post on my last entry of 2020?

It’s been quite a year?

Resolutions for next year?

Reflect on my blessings?

The best of 2020? The worst of 2020? What I learned in 2020? How I survived 2020?

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

My grandchildren are being introduced to The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Granted it is fiction but knowing some of my own grandparents stories, it’s closer to reality than not, at least the experiences. The book The Long Winter, the least fictionalized, described a winter in the DeSmet, Dakota.

The Long Winter | Little House on the Prairie Wiki | Fandom
Heroes, Heroines, and History: The Dakota Hard Winter of 1880/81
The long, hungry winter of Laura Ingalls Wilder | Star Tribune

The book describes a little family in the territory who survived seven months of blizzard. The town was deprived of supplies, as the trains from Chicago were not able to get through. The wood and coal ran out, so the family resorted to twisting stray for their occupation and fuel. People were isolated like nothing we have ever seen in these Covid days. No radio, TV or Instagram to inform or entertain.

Train in the Winter of 1881

So many keep saying, “Oh, I am so glad 2020 is over.” Like it’s the year number that is going to make a difference. I am not sure if 2021 will be any better, at least globally. It seems every year has it’s good and bad. No year is perfectly good – ever! Only in the first world do we have this entitlement that deceives us into thinking we should have a Hallmark experience in color. Only because we have enough money to contrive ourselves to distraction- if not in reality, certainly vicariously on social media.

My maternal grandmother was also from the Dakota territory. She grew up there a half a century later, but things were not much better: depression, a drought, the 9th child. The heat source was the cowpie during that era. The job of collecting the “pies” went to the youngest. It was simple and doable but so valuable in subzero degrees.

Dried cow pie dung Stock Photo - Alamy

Isolation was accepted and normal. Entitlement was not. Her dad didn’t leave. Her mother didn’t commit suicide. Her oldest sister didn’t have an abortion at 15. They embraced their faith. They were loyal. They were responsible. Eventually the family migrated to north central California where they joined other families that had the same values and faith that they did. It seems the family was close, at least they remained loyal to each other. Even in her 9th decade she would still get together with her living sisters. Never a derogatory comment about each other or their spouses.

10 Photos Taken In North Dakota During the Great Depression

If the pressure of the Covid restrictions, dirty politics ( on both sides), protests, disappointments, deceits, and death still have not taught us to look inward, reevaluate, self-examine, to be honest, then we have not learned the lessons of contentment. If we are still blame shifting, looking to government, institutes, entertainment and money to save us , or social media to define and distract us; then we are still dependent even to the point of bondage.

It’s not about the circumstances as much as it is about our response. It takes time with solitude and silence to process, grow, assimilate and practice our response. Really the quality of a year past, present or future isn’t about the circumstances as much as it is about our response.

The conclusion of the matter is “Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13,14