Archive for the 'Remembering' Category

Let’s Keep Politics Out of It

empty_chair

What, really, does “Let’s keep politics out of this” mean?

Previous to a recent election, I was going through our information on ballot propositions, one of which involved changing the way judges are selected. Voting on judges has always been a mystery to me. I don’t know any of them, so how am I supposed to know? In the past I just skipped that section, thinking that people in the know, like lawyers or folks who’d recently served on juries should be the ones to vote.

This time, however, I read the amendment and then started in on the arguments in favor of the amendment:  the Republican governor of AZ supported it (who I had voted for) as did various retired judges, and other legislators. Those who opposed the amendment included the League of Women Voters, a bunch of lawyers, a woman pastor of a large local, very liberal Presbyterian?/Methodist? church,  a domestic violence organization, and the Democrat Party of Arizona.

I find the latter most ironic, since almost all the arguments against the amendment cited the need to “keep politics out of the selection of judges.”  And yet… one of the main methods liberals use to change this country, particularly when they can’t do it through the elected legislators is through the courts. The most blatant example that comes to mind is AZ SB 1070 — passed by the legislators, approved by voters and declared invalid by a judge.

Sounds like politics is already very much involved in our judicial system, so why shouldn’t it be involved in the selection of the judges?

Still, that’s not what struck me the most this time. This time, I realized that somehow the phrase “let’s keep politics out of (fill in the blank)” is one that communicates the idea that “politics” is bad, superficial, and irrelevant. Ie, “the only reason you want to do X is because you’re a Republican”  Implying that signing up to be a Republican was something done in a vacuum and afterwards came the criterion for what that meant.  That is, having decided to register as a Republican, I then must go through the party’s positions to figure out what I’m supposed to think.

Really??

I think not.  Rather, it’s that what I think just happens to line up mostly with what Republicans express and support. And, in fact, as I began reading through the arguments, the first thing I checked was who had made the argument and what was their affiliation. Because that way I have some idea of their worldview and where they are coming from. I am learning more and more that we can use the same words and assign them very different meaning.

I have to laugh at the accusations of the detractors of conservatives, especially those of us who enjoy listening to Rush Limbaugh — ie, that we are mind-numbed robots who have to tune in to figure out what to think.

Not at all. More like we — or at least I — tune in because I’m in desperate need of hearing a sane voice.

In fact, many, many years ago, after I’d gotten saved, the more I learned about the Word of God, the more conservative I became and the more interested in politics. (Writing novels helped spur this interest as well) But everything I read in the newspapers, saw on TV, heard on the radio conflicted with what I believed. It was depressing and frustrating.

I remember when Carter was president, which was really depressing… how people thought all the Christians would vote for him because he was a Christian. Aaack!  No way.

He was such a disaster. (I vividly remember the gas lines. In fact my dad and hubby were nearly run over by a distraught elderly woman while they were waiting outside the car in one of them)

Ronald Reagan was amazing; I was so proud to vote for him. What a president! I loved him.

But still, the papers, the radio, the TV… they all had one voice (pretty much as they still do, if you don’t get Fox)…Reagan was a dunce, an actor, a fool, an idiot, what did he know? etc, ad nauseum. Rather like they treated George W Bush.

And then one day I had the radio on and heard Rush Limbaugh for the very first time. And yes, it was probably sometime in 1988 when he first came on the radio. It was amazing. Finally here was someone — on the radio! — expressing the views I already held! I was so jazzed to learn there were others who thought as I did, others outside my little local assembly of fellow believers, and the obscure periodicals I read.

In fact, it’s still like that. I hear or watch or read the news and form my own assessments, which usually are nothing like the assessments of the mainstream media folks. But  afterward I go my favorite conservative sites (Drudge, Power Line, The Diplomad, Rush, VDH ) and aaahhh. I find common sense, actual facts and information, observations or declarations of the obvious which are totally missing from the mainstream media…

The funny thing is, the ones who constantly seem to harp on the notion of “keeping politics out of it” are the ones who put politics into everything. Who tend to do things precisely for “politics” which I’m coming to think is another word for power-grabbing. But that, too, is a post for another day.

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My Introduction to Rebound

image courtesy of phanlop88/ www.freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of phanlop88/ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

In my last post, Surprised by Jesus, I related the story of my conversion and early Christian life, when I was taught out of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Major Bible Themes. The man who led me to the Lord, taught both the beginners Bible Classes I attended and the College Student Sunday School class I also attended, was a postman back in the Dark Ages when people didn’t use trucks but walked their routes carrying large leather bags full of mail. While he did this he memorized verses, so you can imagine by the time I met him, he’d learned quite a few.

He’d also taught himself Greek, and had a number of serious Bible study resources in his library, including Strong’s Concordance, Vines New Testament Dictionary and many others. I had tremendous respect for him. After my husband and I had moved to Northern Arizona and searched for someone to replace him, we had even more respect for him.

We visited a number of churches and home Bible Studies,  finally settling somewhat reluctantly on a Southern Baptist Church in Show Low. I was also having troubles adjusting to my new life, which was quite isolated, and both of us were suffering from the effects of moving to a much higher elevation than we were accustomed to — one of those effects was being constantly tired and wanting to sleep.

So I was sinning quite a bit in the realms of fear, worry, self-pity, complaining, etc.

One Sunday a visiting pastor came to our church and taught a message on “yielding to the Spirit”.  If we’d just do that, said he, we wouldn’t sin any more (at least that is what I perceived him to have said). I wanted very much to stop sinning, and so listened carefully. In order to yield, he taught, we should write down all our sins on a piece of paper — as many of them as we can remember — and then burn the paper. Then we would be “yielded.”

This sounds so ridiculous to me now,  I suspect I missed something in his teaching, but nevertheless, I went home, wrote down my sins and burned the paper in the kitchen sink, really, really hoping this would work and I would no longer be grumpy, crabby, upset that my husband was sleeping all the time and whatever other assorted complaints I had, which I can no longer recall.

Alas. Before the day was out, I had again sinned, and was no more clear on what yielding meant than before the burning of the list.

I was reading the Bible every day, and memorizing versus, but there were still an awful lot of passages that weren’t making a lot of sense to me. It was frustrating.

Not long after that, my husband started teaching at one of the schools up there and was invited to a Bible study one of the other teachers hosted. Actually, the way it went down was, he came home late for dinner, told me to put the meatballs I’d made into the refrigerator, because we were going to a Bible study that we were already late for, and that was that.

It was our first introduction to Col Thieme. I was not impressed. He was too harsh, too authoritarian, too critical, too arrogant… We critiqued his delivery and at least some of the content of his message all the way home, and not in a good way.

But for some reason when the next week came round, my husband wanted to give it another try. So I agreed. Since Col Thieme had been mentored by L.S. Chafer, much of what he taught was familiar and stuff I agreed with, and the second time around I was more amenable to listening.

And then he taught Rebound. In the context of yielding.

Sin, he said, puts a believer out of the control of the Holy Spirit, out of fellowship with Him. Naming the sin privately to God puts the believer back under the Spirit’s control and restores fellowship. As per 1 John 1:9, “if we confess (name, cite) our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (unknown sins).”  And the cleansed vessel is then free to be filled with the Spirit. This is what is meant by “yielding.”

I was very excited to hear all this!  Finally yielding made sense. Chafer had taught of our need to confess our sins to be filled by the Spirit and so had my first teacher, as well as my first pastor. Even the Baptist church we were attending taught the need to confess sins, though they often threw in the need to confess them to others, or to feel bad about them while confessing. Thieme cut through both of the latter… and I liked that. He used the term “rebound” from the analogy of a basketball player missing a shot but then catching the ball again and getting back in the game. Trying again…

For years that’s what I believed, how I lived, what I taught my son and what I presented to the various youth groups and Sunday School classes I taught.

The only problem was, it wasn’t correct…

How I came to discover that will be tomorrow’s post.

Surprised by Jesus

Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ

Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ

Awhile back, the weekly WordPress Writing Challenge prompted bloggers to “tell us about a moment when your life was changed in a split second.”

That’s easy. The moment I believed in Jesus Christ.

It happened in August I think, in my twenty-first year, at the beginning of my senior year in college. During my time at the University, I worked in the drafting department of the Steward Observatory, doing hand drawn ink renderings of various charts and graphs that the astronomers needed to accompany their articles in various publications.

I usually had no idea what the charts and graphs meant, but I enjoyed the work and the paycheck. I shared a tiny office with a man old enough to be my father and who was in fact a grandfather.

He was a dyed-in-the-wool Introvert. I like to say I forced him to give me the Gospel.

That was back in the day when I was the rabid evolutionist, hardly surprising given my field of study which was a double major in Wildlife Biology and straight Biology. More than that, ever since the sixth grade I’d thought the theory of evolution was just the coolest thing imaginable. “Look at the way all these creatures line up!  The progression is just obvious to anyone who wants to see!” (they never tell the sixth graders that the data simply does not support the theory, but that’s another matter and maybe another post).

In any case, I thought I knew all I needed to know. I was quite smug about it, as well. Not just about evolution, but about religion in general. I remember telling my mother several years earlier during one of our “religious” discussions (she was just getting into reincarnation) that I didn’t see how religious types could hold to the views they had because clearly no one was really bad enough to deserve going to hell (I lived a somewhat sheltered life) but at the same time, no one was good enough to go to heaven, either.

I had it all figured out, yes, indeed.

Well, that particular summer, when I worked in the Steward Observatory Drafting Department, I conceived the notion that I would reconcile the Bible’s account of “Creation” with evolution. Right off I discovered where the Bible went astray — it had God creating the plants before there was any sun!  How could plants live without light from the sun. See? Ridiculous!

I spent a lot of time going on about all this with my associate, whose  name was Dave. He bore with me patiently, mostly just asking questions — I don’t recall any arguing — but later he told me that we could talk about God and the Bible and creation and evolution and the church and so forth but the moment he mentioned Jesus Christ it was like the cookie jar lid slammed shut and there would be no more discussion.

Even so, I kept reading the Bible, using one of the study booklets he gave me. It made no sense to me. I would read the stuff, but it was just… inscrutable.  Still, I felt as if there was something there, and kept with it. It was weird.

I also read The Exorcist and in the middle of reading it one warm windless day (we had no air conditioning or even swamp cooler so the windows were open) I came to a really creepy part involving demons and suddenly, in perfect timing to what I was reading, a cool wind rushed through the window.  It totally creeped me out and I wondered if maybe there really were demons.

Then I read the biography of Maria Von Trapp, and was especially struck by her depiction of the power of the Holy Spirit at one of the church meetings she’d attended later in life, after she’d become born again. I thought it was cool, but didn’t really know what to make of it…

Then, about two weeks before my fateful appointment with Jesus I was confronted by a strange guy on the steps of the UA Student Union. He was friendly, if a little weird, had a clipboard, asked me if I was satisfied with my life and myself, and if not, would I like to take a personality to test to find out how I might improve things? He reminded me of those cartoon people with the spiraling circles in their eyes.  Even so I thought the personality test might be fun.

He made an appointment for me to take my test in the Scientology building which was not far from where we were on a different day. It was a written multiple choice test that asked me the same basic questions repeatedly in slightly different guises.

In the end, the test showed me to be somewhat critical of other people. He asked me if I thought it  a fair assessment, and I did. Then he asked me if I’d like to fix that, and I said, “And I suppose now you’re going to tell me Scientology will help me do that?” He seemed surprised by my question, but yes. That was exactly the deal. For a price his organization would make my life wonderful.

Yeah, right.

I wanted none of it and left.  It was my first and thankfully last experience with Scientology.

I went back to peppering my friend Dave with my questions about religion and Christianity. Finally he told me he felt inadequate to answer all my questions, but he had a friend who could. Would I like to come over to his house after work to visit with him and his wife Daisy and their friend Orville?

For some reason I said yes.

When the day came, I remember clearly thinking as I locked the door to my house that “they think they’re going to convert me, but they’re wrong. There’s no way they can prove which view (evolution vs creation) is right or wrong.” I recall feeling quite smug and even amused.

Well, the meeting went down as advertised. Dave and Daisy opened their home, provided snacks and drinks and participated in the discussion, though primarily it was Orville and me. I don’t even recall evolution coming up. I do recall asking all sorts of questions (like what about the people who have never heard about Jesus?) and for every one Orville would send me to a scripture which I would dutifully read and have NO idea how it correlated with the question! But I would nod as if I did, and he would go on and show me another and another… and I was clueless.

I lived, first hand, the experience of the natural-minded man (in my case young woman) who “cannot understand the things of the Spirit for they are foolishness (incomprehensible gibberish) to him.” (I Co 2:16)

And then somehow they got around to the fact that I was a sinner — a fact I struggled with — I had no idea what sin even was and I saw myself as a goody two shoes — despite the earlier encounter with the Scientologist and his assessment of my judgmental mindset. I never once thought that might be a “sin.” Nevertheless I knew I wasn’t perfect, so … maybe I was a sinner… And as such, I needed a Savior who was  Jesus Christ, the son of God who died for me and rose again. All I needed to do was believe it.

About that time Daisy, who had earlier left the room, returned with the news that she’d called her daughter and family and that all of them were praying for me.

And then… the weirdest thing. In an instant I saw Him in my mind. Just a sense. A picture, not anything I’d call a vision, but a mental image of Him coming up over a hill toward me. And suddenly I knew He was REAL and I wanted to know Him. I was willing to do whatever was necessary to accomplish that.

If they wanted me to pray the sinner’s prayer, I’d pray it. Which I did, admitting I was a sinner, even though I had no clue what it was. Believing that He was my savior, probably asking Him to come into my life (even though clearly He already had).

I went home a changed person. I prayed that same prayer two more times that night, because I wanted to be sure “it took”. And from then on, I couldn’t get enough of the Word. I went to all the church gatherings every week (except the door to door witnessing night… that was much too far out of my comfort zone at the time) I told my mother and my sister and my roommate about Jesus. My sister and my roommate also believed in Him and were baptized  when I was (Dave and his friends attended a Baptist Church, so that’s the one I went to). My mother came to church a few times, but later grew angry and wondered what “that church” had given me to make me so weird.

I told my boyfriend of two or so years about my salvation and urged him to believe in Christ as well. He regarded me with a sad air of condescension and assured me it was a passing phase I would soon be over. No, it turned out that our relationship was a phase that would soon be over. Like that same night.

I went to a weekly Monday night Bible study with my roommate and not long after a new boyfriend (who  later became my husband) which Orville taught for new believers. It included a memory verse program oriented around key doctrines of salvation, Jesus as God and 1 John 1:9. He also taught the college students class on Sunday Mornings using Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Major Bible Themes as a textbook. (I still have it in my library).

In addition to Monday evening and Sunday morning, we also attended Wednesday evening and Sunday evening. My roommate and I sang in the choir.

As for my dedication to the theory of evolution, it was thrown out faster than my old boyfriend. From then on the Word of God was my standard and even if I couldn’t explain just yet why evolution was wrong, I knew that it was, because the Bible said so.

I had one friend (another Biology major) write me specifically about this matter and that’s what I told her. She thought I was a flake, I’m sure. I know now why it is wrong, of course, and can explain its flaws at length (and have done so on this blog.)

I also believe that it’s not the theory that defends itself in its proponents’ eyes, it’s the attitude of the proponent in desiring an “explanation” for everything that doesn’t include God that powers their belief in it.  I’ve read their statements purporting as much.

Anyway, that’s the day that changed my life literally forever.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” ~Acts 16:31

The Genesis of The Light of Eidon

As I mentioned yesterday, in light of this being the last week that the first volume of my Guardian King series, The Light of Eidon will be offered free as an e-book by various vendors, I thought I’d pursue a theme of putting up some posts about the book.

In a previous post, I related that the inspiration for the series sprang from my seeing the very first Star Wars film (A New Hope) – which, like a lot of other people, I fell in love with – coupled with spiritual truths I was learning from a Bible study book by Col R. B. Thieme, Jr, called The Christian Warrior.

In Star Wars, I especially loved the idea of the hero’s journey from weakness to strength, the light sabers, and the concept of The Force, which at the time seemed like a great metaphor for the Holy Spirit.   

Especially in light of The Christian Warrior, which explores the biblical subject of warfare, both temporal and spiritual, using the template of a Roman soldier as a metaphor for exploring, defining and illustrating comparable qualities, preparations and experiences for the Christian soldier.  (“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”  2 Ti 2:3,4)

 Major chapter headings include Temporal Warfare, The Cause for Warfare, Jesus Christ Controls History, The Principles of Warfare, Military Metaphors in Scripture, Paul’s Contact with the Roman Military, The Roman Soldier in Paul’s Day, Roman Decorations and Surpassing Grace Rewards, and so on.  

Toward the middle of the book Col Thieme discusses the equipment we’ve been provided as Christians for the conflict, itemized in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit.

I loved the idea of the filling of the Spirit providing the light for the sword, something that might come and go depending on whether the soldier was in fellowship at any given moment. So that’s where I started.

The Bible teaches that our warfare in this age is invisible. We cannot see our real enemies, the fallen angels, nor do we see the Holy Spirit, indwelling all believers, nor Risen Christ, seated at the Father’s right hand.

Like them, if we actually learn to put on our armor, take up sword and shield to enter the conflict, we will be “Invisible heroes”. Which may be one reason why I am so drawn to many of the superhero stories: they often have a mild-mannered persona that leads most people upon meeting them to discount them – eg, Superman’s Clark Kent, Spiderman’s Peter Parker, Batman’s Bruce Wayne. 

I see in them a perfect metaphor for the Christian soldier, who is among the “not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble” of 1 Cor 1:26.  Like them we are “unknown but well-known” (2 Co 6:9). Unknown to most of the world, well-known to those we fight and those we fight alongside. And the angels who are watching us.

So I wanted that element in the story as well — someone who is perceived as weak by all, turning out to be not so weak after all. Especially as he uses the power of God.   Thus I would to tell the story of a man moving from weakness to strength, both physically and spiritually, and at the same time illustrate the entire trajectory of the Christian life, as well… chronicling the coming to faith in Christ, (or in this case Eidon,) then growing through the three stages of the spiritual life: babyhood, adolescence and finally maturity. Which is the ultimate of going from weakness to strength.

I was green enough, and deluded enough to think I might accomplish all that in a single book!

Somewhere toward the end of writing the first draft of what is now The Light of Eidon, I realized that was not going to happen. And even though trilogies were all the thing at the time, I had to settle for a tetralogy. The Light of Eidon would be Abramm’s journey to Eidon himself, as well as being molded into a hero strong enough to fulfill the destiny Eidon had for him.

In the five-year gap that occurs between The Light Eidon and The Shadow Within, I skipped over his baby phase and moved right to the end of that stage where he takes the first step of walking into his destiny… in this case, contesting his younger brother for the crown of the land that Abramm should rightfully wear.

Shadow over Kiriath brings him through spiritual adolescence and The Return of the Guardian King embodies the evidence testing, as Col Thieme called it, of the mature believer. By which he meant the believer’s ability through spiritual growth to reach a place where he can be deliberately tested by Satan as to just how far he will trust God, how much will he stick with what God’s word says. This is illustrated by Job’s experience and Jesus’s own testing in the wilderness by Satan in Matt 4– though Abramm’s testing is more like Job’s than Jesus’s.)

It was all so nice and tidy when I outlined it. Trying to put flesh on the outline was something else entirely, far more messy and complicated than I ever could have dreamed.

 Looking back, I should have known it was going to take a long time.  You can’t write about a journey like that without living at least some of it. The funny thing, at least for me, is that “maturity” always seems like something off there in the future.   The end of the story doesn’t really end until you’re dead. Or “promoted” as I like to think of it.

Col Thieme called it a “Permanent Change of Station.” I like that, too.

In any case, I originally had ideas for Abramm’s death, for his sons to carry on, for the Dorsaddi to return…

If we stick around as a nation long enough, and I finally manage to finish my current WIP, I’d like to go back to Abramm’s world and tackle that. But we’ll see what the Lord has in mind.

Again, if you’d like to try out the first volume of my Guardian King series, as a free e-book, click HERE.

 

What Price Freedom?

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A lone U.S. Army bugler plays Taps at the conclusion of the First Annual Remembrance Ceremony in Dedication to Fallen Military Medical Personnel at Arlington National Cemetery, March 11, 2009

The following is excerpted from Freedom Through Military Victory by R.B. Thieme, Jr.,  Pastor of Berachah Church, 1950-2003:

“If a nation wishes to perpetuate inviolate the priceless privileges and blessings of independence, warfare is inevitable. Every generation must face the crucible of war.

Freedom is bought and paid for by the blood of individuals who set a higher value on their liberty than on life itself. If one generation is not prepared mentally and spiritually to defend such values, if enough individuals in a national entity reject the principle of freedom through military victory, liberty languishes.

Despite man’s zealous efforts to achieve freedom through peaceful means, wars will continue until the end of human history when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, reigns on earth for one thousand years (Is 9:6 cf Eccl 3:8; Micah 4:1-3; Mark 13:7; Rev 20:4)…

Until then, any nation that desires autonomy, must maintain a military force trained and equipped for war.

The freedom the United States possesses has been purchased through the sacrifice and suffering of courageous men. We as a people have a right of self-determination because of military victory. We as Christians have the privilege to assemble in public worship services and to evangelize unbelievers without persecution courtesy of the military. Since 1776, we owe an immeasurable debt to all our gallant fighting forces, especially to those who gave their lives that we might remain a free people.”

Memorial day is a holiday set aside for us to remember the dedication and sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for the many precious and amazing freedoms we still enjoy in these United States; and having remembered, to reaffirm our devotion to the cause for which they gave so much…

Liberty is a gift; nations whose people take it for granted, will eventually lose it.

Let us not lose by apathy, distraction, ignorance or political chicanery what so many of our men and women in uniform down through our history have giventheir lives to preserve for us.

 (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released, acquired through Beverly & Jack’s Photostream, Creative Commons, Flickr)

Welcome, Lily

Well this morning, sometime before 1:36am, my first grandchild was born into this world. I was asleep but my husband took our son’s middle-of-the-night call. He told me first thing when I woke up. Specifically he told me that I was “an old lady now,” having become a grandmother. Well, I don’t feel like an old lady, and anyway, I know people who are 35 and grandmothers and they’re hardly old women.

A few hours later I noticed a message on the answering machine after I’d come in from hanging out the laundry. Instead of it being a new call, though, it turned out to be the one from my son in the middle of the night. As he finished speaking (“Are you guys asleep?”) I could hear Lily’s cooing, quite close to the phone. It sounded like he might have been holding her, because right after the coo I heard his soft, delighted chuckle. Then he spoke again and she started fussing and about that time my husband must have picked up the phone, because it all ended.

Having heard that, of course I had to call immediately to congratulate the new parents. They were still in the birthing center, where they had a room that sounded like a hotel room with a king sized bed and private bathroom and shower… My son is staying there with them and has gotten two weeks off work for the birth.

Things have come a long way since my husband and I were new parents. Because I had to have a C-section I ended up in a hospital room, which I shared with another woman (I think there might have been two in succession — I was there for seven days, whereas most people were not). My hubby didn’t get any time off work, and because our son was in intensive care (on account of being premature) he (DH) had his hands full. He’d come home from a full day of work, take care of our animals — dogs, turkeys, and maybe chickens… I can’t recall when we got rid of the latter.

Anyway, he had to take care of them, then rush to the hospital to see me in the maternity ward, then our son in Neonatal Intensive Care, and somehow squeeze in a visit to the hospital cafeteria as well. Years later he told me that every day he had arrived at the hospital dreading bad news, certain that our son was on death’s doorstep. I on the other hand, who got to talk to the doctor and nurses and see DS often, never thought anything of the sort and was surprised and dismayed to learn of DH’s perspective only after the fact when we were reminiscing.

I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and it makes sense for the man to be with his wife and child from the beginning, so I’m happy to hear my son will be able to.

And I’m happy to be a grandmother as well. Can’t wait to see little Miss Lily in person. We’d planned a trip in October but that seems an awful long time to wait…

A Different Kind of Mourning

Well, we’ve sold my mother’s car, Indian arts, and house (it’s due to close this week) and last Thursday had an estate liquidator come and remove everything we had left and didn’t want. In the meantime, the White Mountains have been burning, which is where we’d planned to hold our private memorial for my mother.

For maybe fifteen years we — me, my mother, sister, husband, son and his friend took an annual trip to the high country of the eastern White Mountains to camp and enjoy the aspens as they turned color. My husband often scouted for elk and we frequently heard them bugling in the night. Since we never stayed in — or even near — an organized campground, our dogs were free to roam. We hiked and sketched and painted and nature watched and cooked. We have many happy memories of those times and the place itself, which, to quote a recent interviewee, was one of the most beautiful on earth.

We stayed in two different places over the years, one not far from the Bear Wallow Campground, which is the campground where they are saying the horrific Wallow Fire began. The second place was near the town of Greer, which was recently overrun by the flames and 22 cabins were lost (to put it into perspective, though, it was 22 out of 500).

In going through my mother’s things last week, I came upon these pictures from our trips there. The first ones, including the one at the top of this post, are from the Bear Wallow location. The  last one with the “family portrait” is from our place near Big Lake, just south of Greer.  (click on any of them to enlarge)

Double Cienega. I painted that stand of aspens out there.

This is from the hillside above the previous meadow as we hiked up to see a bear den Stu had found.

Us in an aspen grove. It was on this walk that I experienced the rain of aspen leaves I wrote about in a scene in The Shadow Within… That’s Adam, MUCH younger than he is now (so are we for that matter!) and the hound was our first, a bloodhound/black and tan cross named Grumpy. He’s the one that sold us on hounds.

Aspens at the top of the hill.

Walking along the road at the top of the hill, on our way to the den…

There’s our camp, at the edge of the trees, looking out across the meadow.

This one was taken several years later at the Big Lake site. Adam on the left is obviously a bit older than he was in the previous shots here and the new hound is Samantha, Grumpy’s replacement. She was also a bloodhound/black and tan cross. Or at least that’s what they told us when we bought her. My mother is on the right.

To hear and see the news reports, it sounds as if all of the above is gone, nothing but charred black stumps, dead snags and scorched ground. Time will tell — there may still be pockets and stands of life and Stu still wants to try going up there, though lodgings may be a bit harder to come by even than before. God will have to work all this out if that’s what He wants us to do.

In the meantime, we mourn the loss of our beautiful special spot in Arizona — and in our lives and memories — grateful we had as many opportunities to enjoy it as we did.


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