Sunday, July 28, 2013

From a Little Seed

Looking at what has happened to my flowers in a few short weeks, I am reminded of some Scripture passages.
Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith?
--Luke 12:27, 28 (NIV)
Jesus was talking about the trust we can have in God for the things we need. His words also call to mind how God did not just make a functioning planet, but dressed it in beauty. Looking around at these things of beauty reveals a good deal about the nature of God.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
--I Corinthians 15:37, 38 (NIV)
Paul is explaining to the Corinthian Christians what he understands about the resurrection, not just of Jesus, but of all of us. Again, his allegory reminds us of the wonders of God's creation. Everything needed to produce a plant, of whatever type or size, is contained in the seed. And some of those seeds are very tiny indeed.

And whatever our personal "seeds" may be when planted at our deaths, God is going to bring forth something new and wonderful for us.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Most Important Day

July 24, 1936. They couldn't know it at the time, but this day marked the beginning of a very large and widely scattered family.

Alva George McLaughlin, better known as Red McLaughlin, married Rose May Mackey in Gillette, Wyoming.

Red was 27 years old, born in New Mexico territory, and grew up back and forth from central Texas to southern New Mexico. He came to Wyoming in the depths of the depression with the CCCs. The CCCs were being used to fight fires burning in coal seams in Campbell County. However, Red's job was as one of the cooks. When he came to Wyoming he was engaged to a divorcee who had a ranch in New Mexico.

Rose was 20 years old, born in North Carolina, but moved to Wyoming when her parents homesteaded in southern Campbell County when she was a year old. The family came to Wyoming by train, and stayed in a tent in Gillette for a time until a starter cabin was ready on the homestead. It was twelve years before Rose saw a town again. Rose took the "Normal Training" course in High School, which prepared students to teach in rural schools. After graduation that is what she did for the next two years. She was, however, spending the summer of 1936 in town. She was engaged to a guy named Clyde, who was serving in the CCCs in another state.

Rose's sister Elsie, who was with her in town, reported that, "Red was crazy about Rose from the first time he saw her." That meeting took place at a dance. Two months later they were married.

Rose and Red in their wedding clothes in the young city park.

Life was not always easy, there were plenty of rough patches along the way, but they always loved each other. Their marriage lasted almost 46 years, until Red's death in 1982. Through his final illness Rose was constantly with him.

Rose and Red became parents to six children. They have twelve grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and I have lost count on the great-great-grandchildren. (I hope I have the count right to this point. Can one of you other descendants count up the great-greats?)

There are a lot of people, scattered across this nation, who owe their very existence to the marriage that took place 77 years ago today!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Few More Photos

Maria and Bode
Elise giggling because her Grandma is playing with her feet.
Maria with the painting of their old home in Montana that she made for her parents.
Sue, checking out her camera--always ready for those family photo ops.
Sweet Elise

Monday, July 22, 2013

Continuing on with The Visit (from yesterday's blog)

While some of us were visiting in the house, Eric and Mike took Ben and Sara outdoors to introduce them to Blongo Ball (if you are also unfamiliar with this game, you can read about it in Sue's blog here). The sprinklers were on in the backyard, so they set the goals up on the front lawn.

The game begins. The goals were a lot farther apart than the photo makes it look.
When they were set up, we joined them outside to be the audience. It can take a few throws to get the range and develop a throwing technique. Sara's throws were falling a little low and short, so she wisely tried a new method--the high-arching lob. I think it would have worked very well . . . if it weren't for the big tree.

The Blongo Balls went up, but they did not come down.

Since they were bright orange they could be seen high in the tree. It was reminiscent of Charlie Brown and the kite-eating tree!

Where'd they go?
Men love a challenge and they immediately began to try different ways to knock the balls out of the tree. While Mike went to collect some things he thought might be useful, Eric grabbed the hose, set the nozzle to the power spray setting, and tried to blast the balls out of the tree with the water stream. Although the balls did not come down, there was some excitement. The hose, one of those "magic" lightweight expanding types, developed a bulge that looked like a clear balloon on its side, which then exploded. Water was running out the side of the hose at the blowout site.

Next they tried Mike's solution. He brought out an assortment of large balls, which the guys took turns tossing up into the tree. They got plenty of exercise heaving those balls into the tree, but the tree won.

Finally, the very agile Ben climbed the tree. From his perch in the tree he was able to toss one of the balls into the limb holding the Blongos, which were shaken free and fell to the ground.

I think the retrieval of the Blongo Balls was probably more fun for the guys than even the game!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Yesterday sister Grace took me with her to visit her daughter Sue's family, where there were some special family members visiting. For these multi-generational gatherings, relationships can get confusing. So here is how they relate to me:

Grace is my sister.
Sue, her daughter, is my niece. Sue is married to Mike. Their children (my grandniece and nephews) are:
     Maria (husband Eric)
     Ben (wife Sara)
Maria and Eric have two little girls, Cordelia (aged almost four) and Elise (just turned one), who are my great-grandnieces.

I think you can figure out the more direct relationship line to Grace!

Ben and Sara live in North Carolina, so it is a special event when they are able to come to Wyoming for a visit. Grace and I made a quick over-in-the-morning and back-in-the-afternoon trip to join in the family gathering. It was lovely to be with them for those few hours.

Here are a few of the photos I took.

Cordelia and Maria
Eric and Elise
Ben and Elise
Cordelia gave her Uncle Ben quite a workout
Sara, genetic researcher, working on her PhD, and great Blongo Ball tosser (more about that tomorrow) 
Grace and great-granddaughter Elise
Grandpa Mike with Elise (caught in a blink), with Ben in the background
More on this visit tomorrow.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Band Concert

This morning my sister Grace called and asked if I would like to go with her to the Summer Band Camp Concert, which was being held at the High School. Her grandson, Steven, would be playing in the Concert Band section.

I said "Yes." It sounded like fun.

And it was. We met Tina, Steven's mom, in the auditorium and settled down to enjoy.
Waiting to start--Steven on the left.

The introductory piece, and the transition music while groups were changed, was provided by the hand bells group. Lovely sound.

The various groups played their concert numbers, starting with the beginners. I admire those band teachers, who have wonderful patience to work with children who have never played an instrument and must be taught both how to read music and how to play their individual instruments. It was entertaining to see how the tempo and skill increased as the groups progressed through the various levels.

The last group to perform was the Concert Band group, in which grandnephew Steven played the trumpet. They were very good, especially considering that they had only ten days to prepare the music for this concert.

It was a most enjoyable outing!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In July??!!

At six o'clock this morning I opened my drapes to look at the morning. This is what I saw:

FOG! Fog in mid-July!

Now in many places this would be just a perfectly normal morning sight. Here, it is a surprise. We have been having unusually high humidity, in a region where our summer air is normally very, very dry. I enjoyed seeing this morning fog, but by 6:45 it had disappeared. I went out to the deck to read a little in the Bible before moving on with the day, and found the fog had left behind a heavy, heavy dew. I had to dry off a chair before I could sit down (and still had a rather damp posterior when I got up).

The late rains and the high humidity have been keeping Wyoming green longer than on most years, when the land is already mostly clothed in yellow and brown ripened dried grasses by mid-July. The humidity is not good for my asthma, but I love the green on the hills--especially after last year's dreadful drought.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

There's Always Something More to Learn

There's a topic that I have sometimes taught in my Bible classes: Angels: Pretty Ladies with Wings or God's Warriors?

Many, perhaps most, of the images of angels that we see are of the pretty lady variety. But in the Bible angels are generally pictured as young men--sometimes looking like ordinary people, sometimes awe-inspiring, and sometimes glowing. Wings are not mentioned, although there are classes of heavenly beings that are mentioned as having wings. It is hard for me to know whether "angel" which means "messenger" is a generic title for all heavenly beings, or as a specific category of God's servants. I think the latter. When angels appear they deliver messages, help prophets understand their visions, or report having battled another on the way to the prophet. Jesus said he could call on angels to defend him; that, however, would spoil his completion of his mission.

So why do we see angels as winged ladies? Well, now, I have not tried to research this, but my instinct is that we find that image comforting, non-threatening, sweet, and attractive. I have quite a few angelic images around my house, most of which were gifts. I really enjoy them, even though I've not considered them Biblically accurate representations.
Some of my angels. I have some that don't have wings.

Why am I thinking about this today? Well, I am reading the book of the prophet Zechariah. And there, in chapter 5, verse 9, this rose up and grabbed my attention:

"Right after this I saw two women coming through the sky like storks with wings outstretched in the wind." (Isn't that a cool image?)  These two winged women picked up a basket containing a woman representing "evil" (the Hebrew word is in the feminine gender, hence a woman) and carried it away from Israel. Of course, this was an allegorical vision given to the prophet. But it is women with wings! I've read this passage many times over the years, but it never struck me before and I had no memory of it. They aren't actually identified as "angels". . .but they are carrying out a job for God. So, now I am happy to think that my lovely ladies with wings may actually fit into the messengers of God category accurately!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is one of the great hymns of the church, and has a great story behind it. However, that is not my topic for the day. When I was growing up and this song would be sung in church, I would have a little tickle of internal amusement because sitting there in the same pew was my sister Grace.

(Well, I admit this has happened even in my adult years when we would be in the same church service.)

Today Grace turns three-quarters of a century old. WOW! We definitely qualify as old ladies now--but we don't feel like it within ourselves. Our bodies may get a bit creaky and parts might not work as well as they used to and we'll not be running any races--but OLD? Just don't believe it!

So I want to wish our family's amazing Grace a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Here are just a few pictures of Grace through the years:

1942--about 4 years old

c. 1946
c. 1964 or 1965
July 6, 1997
August 6, 2011
August 6, 2011
April 22, 2012
October 19, 2012 at Aunt Elsie's

July 4, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Gift

Sunday evening my granddaughter Megan was working away in my office for quite a long time. I didn't know what she was working on.

Finally she emerged, handed me a sheet of paper, and said, "You can keep this."

Now, Megan loves to draw. If she is watching TV, listening to the book we are reading aloud, sitting in church, or. . .well, you get the idea. She will have pencil and paper and be drawing. Her favorite subjects seem to be animals--both real and imaginary, with or without appropriate backgrounds--but she also likes to draw anime style "people." Her favorite medium is pencil, and she is a master shader.

I often admire something she has drawn, but she rarely let's me keep anything. I think that to her eye the drawings don't perfectly match up to her inner vision and so she won't let anyone have them.

I was very pleased to see that the paper she handed me Sunday evening was a drawing she did for me. It is also different than her usual style work. I do love flowers, and a flower is what she had drawn. This one I'll frame!

Here it is.

By Megan Rose, July 8, 2013.
(It's hard to get an exact color match, or to show the real delicacy of the shading, on the computer. The green isn't quite right, but it's as close as I can get it.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Showers of Rain and Debris

Yesterday was a perfect, lovely summer day.

Nighttime came with a little surprise.

After my family left for the fireworks (I run out of steam before fireworks time), there were a few thunder rumbles, but the clouds did not look too serious. I went to bed about the time fireworks should start, and about the time God's fireworks really took off. Then it started to rain. I wondered what that would do to the fireworks, but thought the little storm would probably quickly blow through.

I was wrong. The rain kept falling, and, indeed, increased in speed and volume. I could hear a few pops and bangs of fireworks through the rain, lightning, and thunder. And it just kept raining. After a time I heard the garage door and knew the kids were home. And it was still raining. After midnight I went to sleep while it was still raining (the rain gauge tells me .4 inch fell).

During the last good rainy spell we had, the rain did a very nice job of washing off my deck and leaving things quite clean and fresh. Since we've been having a lot of cottonwood cotton falling on everything, I was hoping and expecting to find a lot of that washed away this morning.

I opened my drapes and looked out to see:
Pod shells as table decorations.
Chicken Little would have been sure the sky was falling!

The rain had knocked twigs, leaves, and cotton shells all over everything!

After breakfast I took a few photos, grabbed my trusty broom, and swept up a very considerable pile of debris. However, I could not sweep up all the cotton seeds. At least ten jillion (of course that's a real number!) seeds are wedged into the cracks between the deck boards. Since dust that blows in also settles in those cracks, I could probably start a cottonwood forest if I just kept it moist! The cottonwood seeds germinate with amazing speed whenever they land in a moist spot.

I'll have to ask my son-in-law if he will powerwash the deck, as he has in other years. That will clean most of the seeds and dust out of the cracks. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the deck.

P.S. The fireworks did go off as scheduled, and added to nature's display. I have never watched fireworks in the rain!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Another Year Older

Today the USA and I each got another year added to our ages.
7-4-47 My sixth birthday.
(That's baby sister Kathleen in front.)

It's a good thing God has a great sense of humor, because, when giving thanks for our lunch today, Chad also asked God to bless me on my 109th birthday!

I had a nice day with family and friends.

I am still a little surprised to think that I am 72 years old!

Ready to blow out the candles (with sister Grace).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Perspective, or What's My Point of View?

When I sit on my deck, ten feet above the ground, and look around me, I see that I am surrounded by tree tops.

If this were the only view I had ever had, I would believe that I live in a great forest into which a few houses have been squeezed.

I would have no idea that I actually live in a town with lots of trees that have been planted and watered to help them grow and live. I would not know that I actually live on a vast, semi-arid high plain.

My view of reality would be extremely skewed.

I am not widely traveled. I have not been outside the United States. I have lived in Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado, and South Dakota. And that's about it. My personal experience of other places than where I live is limited.

Books have been my doorway to places all around the world. Through books I have, since childhood, experienced places, histories, and cultures that I will never experience in person. I have sailed across oceans and flown to the moon. I have met people who live in a stone age culture in this modern age, and people who live in high rise apartments in great cities. Television and movies have added to my world "experience" by adding the visuals only pictured (often inaccurately) through imagination from written descriptions.

Sometimes people limit what they will read or view to only those things they know are produced by people with whom they agree. This can create a sort of intellectual inbreeding in which nothing new, either in fact or understanding, is ever learned.

I think it is good for me to be aware of what other people believe, what their viewpoints are socially, politically, religiously, and historically. If I test my own viewpoints against these, it should help me know more clearly what I believe and why I believe it. And, if I discover that I just may be wrong occasionally, then I will grow. Even when I will strongly disagree with the viewpoint or cultural practice I am learning about, I think it is useful to gain an understanding of what has formed that culture and its beliefs and practices. It is hard to hate people if I understand what has formed them. I may still have strong feelings about particular beliefs and practices that I think are dead wrong and harmful, but understanding keeps dislike of or disagreement with these things from carrying over into dislike or hatred of the people themselves. There are cultures I dislike intensely; but the people raised in those cultures are still individual humans.

Our perspectives, our points of view are powerful influences.