Because of delays caused by rainstorms and the impossibility of getting around on gumbo mud roads, the ranch where my husband works and has his cattle is still in the midst of branding calves. He is busy from dawn to dark gathering cattle a-horseback, sorting cattle, being part of the branding crew, and making sure mother cows and calves are “mothered up” in the summer pasture.
Yesterday, I helped where I could including with serving the big meal which follows each part of branding. It was an unusual Father’s Day for my husband, but he was doing what he loves where he loves to be, and he knows he is blessed with children and grandchildren who care deeply about him no matter what he does on that day.
A crew of hardworking ranch people worked together to complete a job amidst mutual efforts and frequent laughter. My husband roped calves with his usual expertise and took turns with handling the brands and other branding duties – allowing the younger men to do the “calf wrestling” which gets harder as one gets older. The riding and gathering part of the day involved using our son Josh’s horse Tucker, a beautiful big bay horse who was expertly trained by Josh, and also Josh’s saddle.
All that was missing from this perfect old west picture was Josh himself. He rode and worked with his dad for so many years, including a week before his sudden death. The ranchers of the area where he was living and operating his mechanics shop valued his help with riding and ranch events as much as the ranchers in this area where he grew up, and all of them assumed as we did that he would always be around to be part of things.
I tell this story because one thing people need to realize and honor about grief is that it is never “done” – and often a simple act or a simple sight, smell or sound brings a loved one back so strongly that we are catapulted back into memories and longing beyond description. We just have to realize that the pain would not come if the precious person and events had never been part of our lives. God’s blessings embrace both aspects. Praise Him!
This week I am traveling with an old friend to visit another old friend as well as some relatives. The trip includes whale watching near San Juan Island and visiting the Seattle Aquarium plus indulging in the wonderful “eats” which distinguish this area.
My thoughts turn to that term “old friend,” which at my age can mean both old in terms of age and old in terms of longevity in friendship. What treasures these people are in our lives! I hope that you have several people in your life who fill that role well – or relatives who do the same. They are a gift from God and should be appreciated that way.
When we think about our Savior’s life, we know that Jesus depended upon friends, among them Mary, Martha and Lazarus whom He visited and rested with, finding with them some “down time” to refresh His soul as He went about His very demanding ministry. I mention Jesus in particular because even the Son of God needed friends and encouraged them to play that very strong part in His life.
We live in times where often people are pushed toward not only self-indulgence but self-sufficiency, getting the idea that we have to “go it on our own” either through pride or through the isolation of depression and grief. Unfortunately, isolation and loneliness are the very opposite of Christian thinking.
People need to be needed. So many times when we lean on someone, we are doing them a favor just as they are doing us a favor. The feeling of being able to help in any way alleviates the frustration of seeing someone struggle and feeling helpless. Do you realize the favor you do your friends and relatives when you simply ask them to pray for you?
What happens when they help you in that way? They pray more – they communicate with their God more, and with that communication comes not only God’s answer to prayer for your sake but also strengthening of their faith and their relationship with their God. Prayer gives grace to all who are involved.
God’s gift is that we do not go this way alone. We go with Jesus by our sides and friends all around, if only we recognize our need and their roles. May you always be blessed in this way.
“June is bustin’ out all over!” After a long, cold wet spring here, suddenly we have warmth and sunshine. All of God’s creation is responding with incredible beauty for all the senses, and being a part of it is truly a blessing.
Dealing with a garden -- which of course requires soil preparation, planting, and cultivation including weed removal – I am always reminded of how the Creator made things. They are not only beautiful or at least wonderful, they are also all interrelated. I may refuse to eat worms, for example, but if it were not for worm action in the soil, I would not be eating vegetables either.
The meadowlarks, bluebirds, wild canaries and other little friends who bring not only color but lilting song to our lives are dependent on grass seeds and insects. When I am working in the garden or the flower beds, I am often trying to eliminate grass and combat some insects – but I need to remember that they are part of the plan.
My small McIntosh apple trees were covered with snow in mid May, and within a week they were covered with bees, among them the magnificent “bomber” bees clear down to tiny honey bees, all making sure that pollination takes place and I will have apples. Where were the bees during the snowstorm, and what brought them here to our place?
Because of being raised by a botanist and his wife, I have always had the greatest respect for scientific theories and observation. I sincerely believe that God created the mind of man to contribute all of these things to the world – sometimes for nefarious purposes but more often for good intent. Often I have wanted to know the how’s and why’s of parts of creation.
On the other hand, great joy can be found in just quieting the mind and contemplating the beauty and mystery. How some little seeds can produce carrots and leeks – and bok choi, which by the way has neon green little seeds – and others can produce wildflowers just amazes me. And colors, textures and scents summon every sense to participate in being part of a world far beyond human imagination.
Praise God for June, for creation, for the gift of beauty and our place in the world, which definitely includes praising Him for all He has done.
“The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” If you remember your high school Shakespeare studies, you know that Marc Anthony was talking about Caesar when he made that statement, an oration meant to change the people’s attitude toward Caesar.
I don’t often disagree with Shakespeare, but in this case I have to disagree, at least with Marc Anthony. Part of the reason is that this Memorial Day I have just returned from a very moving ceremony which included a Marine Color Guard, a 21-gun salute, bagpipers playing Amazing Grace, the most beautiful performance of the National Anthem I have ever heard, and an outstanding retired Air Force speaker.
During that ceremony, it was obvious that the good people do lives after them as we were reminded in many ways that our freedom and way of life depends on the actions of people who died or suffered or just fought for our country. I think soldiers, including those currently serving, have to believe that what they do will have a positive influence on their country and the people of both the present and the future.
From the ceremony I went to decorate the graves of my parents and my great grandparents and grandparents, and my thoughts along that line continued. All of these people made mistakes, of course, but what lives on is the good they gave to the world and to many people including me. I would not have life without them, but I also would not have so much more – my love of everything from education to music to the mountains and more important, my Christian faith.
The bad things and bad times in my life have not defeated me because of the faith that they shared, encouraged, and exemplified. Jesus’ love and words were part of my life from birth and baptism through all of my growing years into adulthood and to the present, thanks to men and women who instilled and nurtured faith. This Memorial Day I brought them lilacs and honeysuckle, but more than that I brought them undying gratitude, knowing that the good they did lives after them and the Savior they loved gives us all the way to see each other again.
At the graduation ceremony at Forsyth High School yesterday, we presented the Josh Heser Memorial Scholarship in our son’s memory to a very fine young man who will be attending trade school. That makes seven scholarships to young people who are now pursuing their careers and let us know every now and then that they appreciate the “leg up” in getting their education.
I am not “tooting our horn” – these scholarships are available because people throughout four counties in Montana who loved Josh plus friends and relatives from all over the United States contributed money to endow the scholarships. This choice was made because Josh himself got an Across America scholarship which helped him to go to diesel mechanic school.
As anyone who has read my book or blog knows, I am definitely an advocate for organ donation and like to encourage people to sign up as organ donors because we know a number of people who are alive because of donated organs. However, I am also very aware that some people cannot donate organs and other people have reasons, including religious ones, why they will not do donation. That is their right, and I would never imply that others’ choices are not worthy.
The important thing here is that we understand that in many ways loved ones can “live on” through things that we recognize and/or encourage. Scholarships are one of my favorite ways, simply because I love to see young people get a chance to pursue their dreams and to consider themselves worthy members of society. All of us needs to remember that the quality of our lives is affected by society, and the more people with fulfilled dreams and promising futures, the healthier society is.
Inn what other ways can people’s legacy live on? My mother was a dedicated Sunday School teacher, and we used memorial money for her toward the purchase of Bibles for third and fourth graders at the church where she and Dad attended. When a little boy recognized the footprints on the cover of the paperback Bibles as “Thy word is a lamp onto my feet and a light onto my path,” I could see my mother smiling.
Assuaging grief by doing something in a loved one’s name has to make Jesus smile. Amen.
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.