All Quiet on the Western Front

Nine years ago on July 25, I was writing about it being
“all quiet on the western front” here at Tanglewood Cottage.   My daughter’s boyfriend was visiting, and my son Jonathan was visiting my son Michael’s family, who were stationed in Germany.  Nine years later, my daughter is married and has three lovely children. Jon is also married (to a girl he met in Germany!), and they also have three darling daughters! On this July 25 (yesterday), Jon’s family  arrived safely in Germany,
where they’re going to be spending the fall semester
while Jonathan is on sabbatical from Moody.  What a whirlwind this past month has been!  Alan and Jon drove a moving van cross-country  so they could store Jon and Linda’s household goods here in GR until they find some place in Chicago next winter. Linda and the girls flew here, and we’ve been having a grand time;  the house has been bubbling and bursting with life. Not only does Dan’s family live in town, and we have Joel living with us, our oldest son’s family (four boys) and my daughter’s family visited,  and even my “Little Sister” Lizzie came for a visit! However, last Monday I put the last of our visitors on planes heading East
and came home to an empty house.  (Thankfully, Alan and Joel still live here,
but they were at work when I came back home.)  Have you ever noticed how therapeutic work is?  I worked like a beaver washing mountains of bedding and linens, cleaning…putting away toys and books and puzzles…  legos and trains and balls.  All the lovely wildflower bouquets have wilted,
and the only remnant of my flower girls are a bunch of clovers!   The house is straightened and is slowly becoming tidy and clean,
but the silence is pretty much deafening!

I was thinking about how exhausted I would be by the end of each day, and my nightly chorus in response to Alan’s inquiry into my condition: “Oh, the old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be!” My elderly mother, while living with us when my seven children were small, used to say sometimes, “I think I’d like to spend the afternoon with some old people.” It made me laugh (to myself, not at her), but now I understand!  Time flies! I wouldn’t trade a minute of such bursting life for a minute of rest, but I do know why the Lord created us so that we cease child bearing in our forties!  Are you exhausted and in the thick of family life? I truly do feel for you, but I hope you’re able to appreciate the beauty of exploding life and love.  When the “war” is over, it will be quiet—and that’s wonderful too…and the way God intends, I believe—but tranquility is also often a segue toward death.                                                                Life is sure messy,                                                                but life is good! Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4)  “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).



Fred L: Brown Can Be Beautiful Too

SleetOver the weekend we had our first sleet and snow this fall. Autumn Oak LeavesIt took all the vibrant orange and yellow shading out of our oak leaves  Flowers gone to seed and killed the last of the flowers. Barren woods Most of the trees have dropped their leaves, and the woods looks barren.Dead Leaves Time to rake up all the debris and tuck the flowers into bed.Pine ConeWinter’s coming, and I find myself grieving the loss of warm sunshine Autumn Colorsand brilliant autumn colors. First Snow copyThis past week a dear friend’s father was diagnosed with a stage-4 lung cancer. Very sad. 😦   This morning I went with Susan to visit him. Oak Leaves Life has lost much of its warm sunshine and color for dear Fred, too. His wife just passed away a year ago, and now he has ? months left to live. November Lake copyBut to my delight and amazement, I found that Fred is alive and well in his spirit, still full of reflections on life and wonder over our mighty God. Flowers gone to seedIt struck me that Fred is like the flowers along our lane…still beautiful! IMG_2247Brown can be beautiful too. Golden RodI hope we don’t overlook the beauties in November…and in the elderly. Milk Pod WeedFred was as open as a milk pod weed… cheerfully dispensing seeds of wisdom that had matured over 80+ years of living life to the full. Brown Flower copyHe reminisced about surviving life in Berlin during World War II, serving with the U.S. army in Korea during the Korean War, etc. Hooded MerganserHe talked about things I’d only read about before, and he had some insights and perspectives that were totally new (like seeing this hooded merganser duck on our lake…which I’ve never seen before yesterday!). IMG_2271I’ve known Fred for nearly 20 years, but it took until the November of his life for me to really begin to appreciate the depth of his character! Milk Pod SeedThe 3 of us had such a good visit that I asked if he’d be up for another visit with an agenda: sharing some seeds of wisdom to pass on to others. Queen Anne's Lace Withered“Sure!” he replied…in fact, he’d been thinking about transcendence, wonder, gratefulness…and on and on! He’s going to think about it and try to be prepared for our next visit. Isn’t that cool? Fred makes the brown of life’s November look very rich! What an inspiration. 🙂 Withered Grass

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them…or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God, who gave it.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:1,6-7)