Sunday, January 7, 2018

Coming of Age

At 1 parents celebrate their toddlers first birthday with great vigor! At 5 generally a child begins formal education. At 13 teenage years begin. At 16 a driver's permit is issued. At 18 high school is complete. At 21 drinking alcohol is legal and at 25 one can rent a car. Certain ages seem to mark a milestone in life. What about age 10? Any significance there? Maybe not for most but in the Stall/Thorpe family it has become a significant age. 10 years old means doing something special with Nani and Nano(Papa). This idea was first born in Nani's head, borrowed from a girlfriend who took each one of her grandchildren, when they turned 10, on a hiking exhibition down and up the Grand Canyon. She continues this regime through her line of nine grandchildren. Thankfully she is in excellent physical shape being a runner and yoga teacher. If this was the required activity Hunter and I, with our bad knees, would not make the first descent into the Canyon let alone the climb out! We would, though, make the news with our grandchild having to carry us out! Yet the idea of celebrating the 10th birthday of our grandchildren appealed to us, just not that particular activity.
This year our first grandchild, Christian, turned 10. Since the Grand Canyon idea was "off the table" what would take its place? We also had to keep in mind that trailing close behind Christian are nine more grandchildren, all of whom will be watching what number one gets to do and be expecting if not the same activity, similar ones. Keep in mind that Papa (Nano) is 71 and Nani 68 so to cover all grandchildren the activities will need to cover six more years, anything strenuous being out of the question!
As we look at our grandchildren we see them developing a variety of interests. Therefore we decided that as that magical age approached for each grandchild we would discuss with him/her what currently interested them and go from there. 
Christian has recently developed an interest in fishing, much to Papa's (Nano's)  pleasure and horse back riding, which has always been a love of Nani. Since the grandparents could not agree on one activity Christian got to do them both! Guess the bar has been set pretty high. Ha! Oh well, grandchildren are SO worth it!
Therefore  Christian went deep sea fishing with Nano and his Dad resulting in a successful day on the ocean. That evening the entire family feasted on a platter of delicious fish!
One week later Christian, his Nani, and his mom went horseback riding at sunset along a beautiful beach where we saw whales breaching in the distance as well as a rainbow and on our return ride we spied two wild boar and a huge cormorant. What fun!
We now look forward in two years to the next grandchildren "coming of age" and being a part of what they choose to do with their grandparents.

P.S. For those of you who were wondering, Hunter is called Nano by the Thorpe grandchildren and Papa by the Stall grandchildren. May be a bit strange for some but works fine for us! 🙃







"Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly.." Proverbs 17:6

Friday, December 29, 2017

Holiday in Hawaii

Tropical breezes, swaying palms, mild temps., lush vegetation on steep volcanic hills all describe the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Our daughter and son-in-law and four children recently moved to Kailua, a small Hawaiian town on the east side of the island. They will be stationed there for three years with the U. S. Military. Hunter and I are currently visiting them enjoying the perks of island "life". We have hiked to a lighthouse, a waterfalls, and played in the surf on a beautiful pristine beach. Yet one of the most impactful moments was witnessing and being a part of the baptism in the ocean of Logan, our eight year old grandson. Christmas morning was unique as we went whale hunting while our Christmas cinnamon rolls rose at home. Although there were no whales just being outside overlooking the blue waves dotted with diehard early morning surfers was exhilarating.

Psalms 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands."

God's magnificent creation is on display in Hawaii wherever you look. Out our bedroom window, which is never closed, I hear birds singing and see palm leaves bending as though in constant worship to their creator.
Yet unknown to many there are "negatives" to living in Hawaii. Flys NEVER freeze! We are constantly in battle with them in the kitchen especially! I never realized I had natural curl FRIZZY hair until experiencing the high humidity in this tropical environment! Traffic is often a problem! Remember we are not the only ones wanting to enjoy warmer weather year round! So as you can see this is not a paradise as it is labeled by some. (I realize this is only MY opinion.😉)
The only real paradise awaits us in heaven. And that is only available to those who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So if you want to spend time (aka) eternity in paradise take that step of faith, confess your sins, and ask Jesus to be Lord of your life. Then you are guaranteed a "ticket to ride"* to spend forever in the TRUE paradise!!

* Ticket to Ride is a new Christmas board game our grandson received this year. Fun!


















Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Pictures in my head

",,,you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name." Psalm 61:5

When I think of my "heritage", pictures flash through my mind. My grandfather rests at the head of the Thanksgiving table where are gathered faces of cousins and aunts and uncles listening as he quotes Numbers 6:24-26
The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
My grandmother sits flipping through her well-worn Bible sitting in the dining room at the old oak table dimly lit by a tiny lamp nestled on a crocheted doily. My Dad, after long hours plowing his corn fields, wearily lowers his frame into his comfortable recliner opening his Bible preparing to study for Sunday's Sunday school lesson, which he weekly led. My Mom, early in the morning with her simple breakfast, locates the days Daily Bread devotional and her Bible to read and learn and share. 
These snapshots have "carried me" through times of doubt and discouragement. As street lights illumine a sidewalk so these pictures have been a beacon directing me along the path God has carved out for me, one I too often stray from! God has often used my spiritual heritage to open my eyes and nudge me along life's road, filling me with tears of joy realizing the blessings of godly relatives.
As we age we think about what will we leave behind, What will make a difference in the lives of our loved ones? Will the precious jewelry, or the antique dresser, or the photo albums, or the valuable coin collection make an impact on the souls of the next generation? Will these "things" last through eternity? Instead of answering that question I would rather ask 3 others:

What pictures am I leaving in the minds of my children and grandchildren? Do they have a snapshot of me with God's Word in my hands? When they remember me will that stir their soul? 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Finding "Joy in the Journey"


Dirt bikes were secured to the bike rack as we maneuvered down the gravel road approaching "The Dismal Swamp" near Chesapeake, Virginia. A sunny, fall day of planned adventure and fun traversing the back roads of the "swamp"was our goal.
The Dismal Swamp is an area of thousands of acres of swampy, untillable land in Virginia and North Carolina surrounding the second largest lake in the state, Lake Drummond. Dating back to George Washinton this area, then millions of acres, provided waterways for transporting people and supplies. During the Civil War it was also a popular "station" for the Underground Railroad transporting slaves from southern states to the north. 
Hunter and I began by walking a 3/4 mile boardwalk which snakes its way through a small section of the swamp giving one a taste of the cypress trees with the cypress "knees" popping through the underbrush and other vegetation. A multitude of birds, of which I am hopeless to identify, accompanied us along the well maintained walkway.
After lunch it was time to ride. We chose a four mile route over a rough, grass covered backroad which promised a lake view at the end. The goal? Rest quietly by the lake after completing the four miles. Sounds easy enough until one realizes the amount of energy needed to ride a dirt bike over tree roots, uneven overgrown grass, and thick muddy tracks pulling at tires already sufficiently dirt-caked! A 25 year old with an overload of testosterone would laugh in the face of this mild ride but a 68 year old lady struggling with balancing issues related to Parkinson's Disease didn't see it quite that way!
Encouraged by my optimistic hubby I peddled along, each 1/2 mile marker bringing a sense of accomplishment and fueling a determination to reach the "end", whatever that played out to be!
But when mile marker four was reached and NO lake was in site frustration set in as did exhaustion.
I sent Hunter ahead to locate the elusive lake. Fifteen minutes later he returned announcing there indeed is a lake view just a mile ahead. I simply then asked three questions: Is there a burger joint there? An ice cream shop? A soda fountain? When Hunter smiled but said no,I replied, from my prostrate position on the ground, then I'm not going!
Defeated with only enough energy left to mount the bike seat I began the return trip. Each 1/2 mile took untold effort! Yet I was rewarded with three beautiful deer sitings and glimpses of several turtles splashing into the water canal as I passed on the bike. Although out of breathe I began to notice the bits and pieces of God's creative genius along the road from the burnt orange of the fall leaves to multicolored butterfly wings. Eventually I rolled my tires and weary body to the car. In reflecting on the afternoon trip I was reminded of my sister's favorite saying: "find joy in the journey"!
As we each walk the path in life God has ordained for us there will be times of defeat, times of expectations not met, times of weariness but through it all we can find "joy in the journey" if we but open our eyes and recognize the blessings along the way!





Friday, October 20, 2017

Sisters


A few weeks ago my two sisters and I rented a condo on Virginia Beach for four days. We talked a LOT, sat on the beach, reminisced, ate fine dining, walked in the rain, and laughed much! In reflecting on those moments I feel so blessed. Although we have the same parents we are very different. One likes drama productions while another would much rather sit in the stadium of a lively football game. Two are rekindling their musical talents while another would rather be peddling a bike than practicing notes! Ha! While all three enjoy traveling one likes a quiet sit at the beach vacation while two others are trip advisor enthusiasts checking off every activity available. All three love being an active part of the "Grandparent Club" and work hard at creatively entertaining their grandchildren when given the opportunities. Loving God comes naturally for all three, as we often reflect on the spiritual heritage left by our parents. 

The following poem best describes how I feel about my two sisters!


Sisters And Best Friends

© 

God sent us to be sisters
So we can be best of friends,
To be there for one another
Even when there is pain.
I thank the Lord for sending my sisters to me,
For whom I truly love and care.
We shared so many things together,
Like laughter and some scares.
It's funny how we sometimes argue.
I guess it's normal in this world,
But having you as my sister
Means more to me, more than you'll ever know.
I wouldn't trade you for anything.
I will never let go.
As our friendship continues to grow,
So will my love for you.
Just always remember you can talk to me.
I'll be the best friend you ever knew.



Monday, September 11, 2017

God "bought" me jeans today!

I absolutely HATE shopping for clothes! This hatred travels back to my childhood. Growing up in a small farming community meant shopping in a tiny town. I distinctly remember Ross's Clothing store and Sears, which was largely a catalog establishment, being the only choices for clothing attire within a 1/2 hour driving distance. The average sized girl could fit into most of their stock of clothing but I was NOT your average! I received the nick name "string bean" in high school for a reason! (Even now, as an older adult, I have a friend who calls me "long tall Sally") So as you can imagine the length of my arms and legs are a bit beyond the normal, in fact 2 inches beyond the "normal"! That presented, as it still does, a challenge when trying to fit into long-sleeved blouses and long pants of any kind. As I reflect back on those days of shopping with my mom I feel sorry for her.  How it must have hurt her as I constantly complained about the lack of any selection that would properly fit me. It certainly was not her fault that my Dad's structure (6' 4"), built for basketball, fell on a young girl who played the clarinet and wanted just to fit into the styles of the time. It was never a problem that went away and to this day it still haunts me. Yes, there is online shopping but companys continue to cater to the average physique, especially in the department stores. 
With this background you can better understand my experience today. I needed jeans for the fast approaching fall temps. Recently I have added on a few pounds, for me a good thing, but that rrequires a size change in pants. With credit card in hand I decided to "tackle" the mall. 
As an added note, with my advancing Parkinson's Disease my left leg has weakened causing some minor foot tremors and muscle spasms making walking a painful challenge. So to walk from one store to another hunting down the perfect fit is sometimes more than I can handle. Yet today I knew it was time. So while driving to the mall I asked God to help me find some jeans that would "fit the bill". In fact I carried on quite a conversation with Him about the struggles I face when shopping. I realize He knows all about this issue but He quietly listened anyway. 
My first store was The Gap. In past years I have been able to locate some clothes there, even though I cringe when I pay the bill. (Thankfully I have a husband who totally understands my problems and always says "If it fits, buy it"!) Well, today NOTHING in that store fit! Since the price tags were $80 and up I didn't feel too badly about leaving with no packages. I ventured out into the middle of the mall, gritting my teeth as I hobbled down to Penny's. By the time I faced the Lee section of jeans I was in pain. To further frustrate me I could find no longs and all the jeans were a jumbled mess. I actually sat down on the floor in despair when I noticed a pair of jeans just thrown on a pile with a tag hanging off the shelf that read 6L. I wondered could they possibly be anything I would want or fit into? 
There is another issue that I also face. I am picky and want my clothes to feel good as well as be somewhat in style. So could these "stray" pants actually be what I need and even want? OK, go try them on. I almost trembled as I slipped into them and faced the mirror. They fit, they looked good, they were the perfect color. YES! I quickly took them to the checkout counter not even looking at the price tag. When the clerk rung them up she did a double take and looked at me and said WOW, what a deal. They were originally $48 and now on sale for $15! I couldn't speak except to repeat WOW. I paid the bill and began walking outside when I suddenly realized these jeans were from God! Tears ran down my cheeks as I opened the car door and sank into my seat. God knew my struggles and met me at my point of need in such a beautiful way. I had asked for His help and He produced the answer to my problem!
On the drive home I pondered the fact that the God of the universe cares about the very details of our lives. Jesus said in John 16:24 "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." My joy is complete today as I experienced His marvelous provision for me!

Monday, July 17, 2017

"Unique"

KWhile in Alaska we had the joy of feasting on a multitude of magnificent waterfalls. Some were slow trickles while others cascaded thousands of feet over volkswagon sized boulders. Several fell in crooked paths while others appeared "pencil" straight. A couple sprayed us with cold mist. Color changes appeared in a few as they followed their downward descent. Yet they all shared one trait: being UNIQUE in and of themselves with their own particular beauty! Here are just a few samples:













I was reminded that we are all created unique and special. God is the potter and we are the clay. He made us all perfect having our own uniqueness. Some people have blue eyes, brown eyes, some people can do this, some people can do that, some people are right handed, some write with their left hand. You were made for a purpose. 

God has a plan for everyone and we are all an individual member of the body of Christ. You are a masterpiece. As you grow more and more as a Christian you will truly see how special and unique God created you.

Psalm 139 speaks about this "uniqueness":

Psalm 139:13-14 You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of it!

Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born.Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Psalm 139:2-4 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.

Celebrate the unique waterfall in YOU!