If I Die…

For my loved ones – warm pie, a family favorite

Someday, maybe after I die, my kids might read through my blog and see this. I want to say here that I love all seven of you more than words can describe, and although I tell and show my love for you all the time, if there is any doubt, here it is in writing.

I also want to say that all the photos I have taken, videos I have made, and writing I have done in journals over the years is no indication of any favoritism. I would hate for any of my kids to feel I didn’t love them equally because there wasn’t as much record of them in one form or the other. Each one of you are tied for first place in my heart.

I am writing this on Friday, August 2, 2019. I will schedule this blog entry to be automatically posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

I set it at 11:11 a.m. That is a special “TIME” of any day, of course, for us.

Why schedule it? Because I am planning to go on a two-night road trip tomorrow (which would be Saturday at the time of this writing) with my oldest daughter as she has an appointment and also wants to buy some things in the city that she can’t find up here. I don’t like to post on the internet about when I will be away, so by the time this publishes, I should already be back home…

Unless the Lord takes me to my forever home.

If I don’t return from my trip, may my remaining children know how dearly I love them. May they seek assurance through studying God’s word to know that faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only way to heaven. I want them to be with me there.

I want everyone who reads this to be there, too. I share the desire of God’s heart, which is that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Sincerely, with love,
Mom/Steeny Lou

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Are You Still There?

I haven’t been blogging much lately and I notice that a lot of the people on my little list of bloggers I follow haven’t been as active, either. What’s going on with us? Are we all too busy for WordPress? Have we lost part of our minds in the busyness of summer? Will we get back to regularity eventually? Are we not eating enough fiber? (Sorry, bad joke.)

I’m posting this in hopes I will hear from WordPress friends and followers and maybe even from a new viewer or two.

Maybe you’re as busy as me. Longer, warmer days make more time for the things that can’t get done as easily in winter.

And the dark cloud that has been hovering over me comes and goes. I’m doing what I can to force it to stay out of the way of my sunshine – exercise, healthy food, essential oils purported to improve mood, sleep, even medication in desperation – but sometimes it is insistent. Do you fight with it, too?

Of course, only the village idiot is happy all the time. (I grabbed onto that saying from a fellow blogger. It reminds me that I am not as insane as I sometimes feel.)

I hope today has good moments for you, whoever and wherever you are. We all need at least a few of those, eh? But when things are dismal, it serves to intensify how much more we will appreciate when things are going well. And I always think of how all the more will heaven be joyous compared to earth.

joy

Confusion

Typical photo that has nothing to do with my post. Cows half an hour from home.

Do you ever feel like you need something but you don’t know what it is?

Do you ever feel like you need to tell someone something but you can’t put it into words nor figure out who you need to tell or why?

“Excuse me,” said the grocery store clerk. “Are you fine here, or would you like to go down to Express?”

I looked up from typing those first two paragraphs on my phone, which I thought I had time to continue because of the long line to get to a till.

“Oh! Yes, sure, I will go down there. Thanks.”

I smiled at the lady whom I was addressing and walked down to one of the checkstands that had become opened since my mind had been buried in writing on my phone.

As I put my 15 items (or less) onto the belt, the cashier asked if I’d found everything I needed. My immediate thought was this blog post’s words.

What DID I need?

I unfolded my grocery list, glanced to see if any items had not been crossed out or circled (I circle that which I cannot find, that which is too expensive this week and not really urgent, and that which has become an item I’ve decided isn’t necessary today, to add to my next list.)

“Yes. I did,” I said.

But I still don’t know what I am lacking outside the grocery list.

Something’s amiss.

I am going to venture a guess that this feeling is to do with not belonging in this world.

In large, loud, all-caps letters within my brain, each word enunciated and with a dramatic pause before the next one is heard, the sentence shouts out:

THIS

WORLD

IS

NOT

MY HOME.

(Now, I highlighted the words of this draft while I sit in my truck, hit “select all”, hit “copy”, and, with my words saved to clipboard, I go to the settings to choose my categories and tags. Redo the save to clipboard process, and THEN hit “publish now”.)

Maranatha.

Into Freedom

Some songs hurt too much to hear because someone I love has left their earthly body and gone to be with Jesus, and the song was special to them and to me. Memories fill in the spaces between the lyrics and blend with the sounds of the instruments, reaching out with silken tentacled arms that wrap around my throat and squeeze.

“Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison is at the top of the pain list for reasons of indescribable agony. I love it, but it is playing at a café where I am sitting and it is all I can do not to run outside and cry… yet, I am cemented to my chair with every note cutting into my soul.

I wonder if I am the only one so afflicted by songs heavily drenched with the spirit of someone beloved and missed.

This version by the Zac Brown Band especially tears my heart out. But I am going to be brave and listen, and know in the depths of my heart that I will again see my loved ones who died in Christ, better than before, singing, dancing, pain-free, sin-free, joyously free for eternity!

My Mother’s Hand

My sister’s hand holding our mother’s hand

One year ago to the day, my mom left this world.

I dreamed about her last night. It was as though she had never left. We went swimming together in an indoor pool within a huge log house with lots of windows letting in sunshine through a filter of tall evergreens. Later in the dream, we met up again with plans to return to the pool. Nothing at all crossed my mind to hint she had died. It seemed totally normal.

Man, I love dreams. That was a good one.

Only in the past few days have I begun to go through the boxes of my mom’s stuff that I brought up here last year. The thing that gets me the most is seeing her writing. Her nice, neat, left-handed writing was the same since I was little up until the notes she made during her final week in her old home.

Here is a photo my sister sent to my cell phone a year ago while a few of my kids and I were an hour into the drive on which we embarked after hearing the news of my mom having suffered a massive stroke. My mom was unconscious in a hospital bed as my sister held her hand and took that picture.

That’s the hand that penned letters, words, and thoughts I will always cherish. That’s the hand that raised me. That’s the hand that led me with love.

I didn’t get there in time. My mom passed away a couple hours after that photo was taken.

Some will understand when I say I will see my mom again and things will be better than ever. I look forward to that.

Wheels And Steel

My latest vehicle, a 2003 Ram with Cummins diesel

A friend of mine sent me pictures of the beautiful vehicles she has owned in the past decade. That got me thinking about my own list, so I compiled one just for fun.

1. 1969 Fargo pickup truck – blue and white. I was 15 and bought it for $150 from a farm.

Steeny Lou and the Fargo, 1982

2. 1973 Plymouth Valiant 2-door – navy blue

3. 1976 Chevy pickup – ugly brown. I taught myself to drive with a clutch in this truck as I bought it and had to drive it home. I’d tried to learn on other people’s vehicles before but never got the hang of it till I had no choice.

4. 1965 Chevy II 4-door – burgundy (I got into an accident with it in 1986 and had it parked on the fishing docks of a business owned by some friends in Ladner, BC, while I waited for it to get repaired by mobile mechanics. Before the job was complete, someone stole my car. It never did get found.)

5. 1969 VW Beetle, red with a blue stripe painted onto each side (not quite a Nike symbol but slanted like that)

6. 1974 VW Bug – yellow. It had a sunroof. The muffler got a hole in it. I liked that because it sounded like a Harley.

7. 1964 Chevy II 2-door post (bought in 1987 and kept till 2005) – shiny cherry red. I found a 283 engine from a 1963 Corvette and had it installed. My car still had the stock “6” symbol on it, but when I hit the gas, it blew down the highway like a spaceship!

“The Steenmobile” – see the plate?

8. Datsun of some sort that was dirt cheap and barely ran for the week I owned it – flat ugly red

9. 1989 Ford F250 4×4, brand new from the dealership – blue and white

10. 1976 VW Bug – deep dark metallic blue, almost black. Threw a rod on day 2 of owning it while on a trip to Seattle, WA. It would have cost more than the vehicle was worth to get it towed from the States to my home across the border in BC two hours north and get it repaired. Sold it to a junk dealer for $20 and caught a Greyhound home.

11. Ford Econovan (mid 1970s, can’t remember which year exactly. Kept it at a harbour parking lot in Petersburg, Alaska, so we’d have something to drive when we arrived in town via our boat) – ugly brown, and with mushrooms growing in the carpet in back after spring thaw

12. 1991 Ford Explorer (aka “The Ford Exploder” because it blew a transmission and then a few months later its engine blew) – dark blue

13. 1998 Dodge Ram 4×4 with Cummins diesel – black

14. 1974 Mercedes – cream with dark blue roof (still own it)

15. 1996 Dodge Ram 4×4 with Cummins diesel – shiny cherry red like my ’64 Chevy II

16. 2000 GMC Safari van – bluish green

17. 2003 Chevy Suburban – boring tan colour so commonly seen on these

18. 2011 Toyota Matrix – metallic black. (Still have it, but needs a new transmission.)

19. 2016 Kia Soul – Caribbean blue (bought brand new from the dealer in 2016 and still loving it)

20. 2003 Dodge Ram 3500 4×4 with Cummins diesel – burgundy. (This and the Kia Soul are our daily drivers.)

There were other vehicles I drove, but they were more the property of other people, such as my parents or the ex, so I didn’t list them. Actually, #9, the Ford F250, was more the ex’s than mine, but I ended up with it when I escaped from him in 2004 as it was relatively junky by then after him using it as his work truck for years, and he wouldn’t let me have the black Dodge Ram even though I mostly drove it – long and disturbing story there.

Most of the vehicles on the list had standard transmission. Personal preference.

I love my little blue Kia Soul. I bought it a window sticker that says “It is well with my Soul”.

My 2016 Kia Soul in Spences Bridge, BC

And the ’03 Ram in this blog post’s top photo is a joy, too. I’m grateful for all the wheels and steel, gas and diesel, leather and cloth, heat and air conditioning, that got me around in style (more or less) these past decades of my driving life.

Looking at this list humbles me. It is a lot of material goods. They are not all the fanciest vehicles, but still, wow, it’s more than some people could dream of having.

Yes, I worked hard for it – don’t we all? But I realize it is temporary, in the big scheme of things.

It’s just “stuff”. I could lose all my stuff tomorrow.

It hurts to lose stuff, especially when we have worked hard for it, but it’s not like losing a soul. We only get one of those, for free, and there’s only One Way to preserve it for eternity. And that is also free: by believing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died and rose again to save you.

Imagine, your soul, preserved for eternity, but not in the body you’ve always known, with its aches and scars, its imperfections that drive you mad, it’s quirks and its demands. It’d be you, but YOU 2.0!

I’m looking forward to that new me, thanking Jesus all the way Home.

A Regular Dose of Wilderness

Scientific studies aside, getting outdoors rejuvenates me. The more, the better. Well, within reason. I draw the line at sleeping in a tent unless absolutely necessary. Too many traumatic associations of tent-camping with toddlers keep that as a no-go for me.

Here’s a taste of my yesterday dose of wilderness:

Abandoned cabin at Pothole Ranch on BC’s Gang Ranch – second largest ranch in Canada

Abandoned root cellar at Pothole Ranch

The Chilcotin River, which runs through Farwell Canyon, is an off-shoot of the Fraser River

The bees were busy on this tree

“Mom, we need to go do something in the wilderness,” said my oldest daughter, who’s been working hard as a supervisor and safety coordinator for road construction all week.

“I know,” I said. “I’ve been so busy. But I am going to have to just make it happen.”

“Yes, that’s when we need it the most,” she said. “I read a sign that said we should get out in nature for at least 20 minutes a day. And on days when we’re really busy, we need to get out even more.”

It is true. I get so buried by the “gotta-do’s” in my life that I run out of Steen:

the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery restocking and the other errands in town;

the appointments for various family members;

the overseeing of my younger children and their learning and socializing;

the paperwork and the organization of it;

the bill management and everything finance-related;

the scheduled and also the unexpected;

the prioritizing of urgencies, and the abandoning of priority to the emergencies.

And that’s not even mentioning the book project I try to squeeze in every day. Those documents are always open on my computer, in front of which I sit for a few minutes at a time, several times a day. Some days I only add a few lines. Some days I edit what was already there. Some days I can’t squeeze in a moment or a word.

I often leave my phone on a charger where I cannot see or hear it. Almost every time I check it, there are messages. I have lost friends because of my inability to sit down and return calls. I try to at least fire a text message or email in reply where possible.

My home is surrounded by wilderness. All I need to do is step outside and I hear birds singing. Trees and other foliage grow wild everywhere I look in my yard and beyond it. And the air is fresh and clean.

I walk in nature every chance I get, even if it is a few minutes to see the sky. I go for longer walks when able, alone or with family members, hiking up hills or meandering along forest trails; and breaking up the walk with sprints to get in some higher intensity intervals for increased health benefits is a nice way to spice up a walk. Outright longer runs are satisfying, too.

And every so often, I get to expand the radius of my wilderness enjoyment. Yesterday’s trip to Farwell Canyon, BC, meant 2-1/2 hours of driving to reach that spot, but I was with three of my kids, listening to music in my son’s Jeep while he drove, laughing, talking, and enjoying the views. The journey was as much a part of the destination as was the first step outside onto silent ground.

Water running over rocks. Sandstone hoodoos. Blue skies bedecked with white clouds. Grass, trees, and many more greens than I can name.

I need it.

I love it.

I thank God for it.

I look forward to more of it, in abundance, never fading or decaying, in the place my Lord Jesus has prepared for me, which is far better than even the best taste of wilderness this world has shown me.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Meaning Of Life?

Sunset on Thompson River, Kamloops, BC

The beauty of this world, such as this sunset on Thompson River in Kamloops, BC, will pale in comparison to what we will see with the Lord Jesus

The meaning of life seems to be a tough thing to try to define, but the way I see it is that we were put on this earth as part of God’s plan to weed out who really will belong with Him because they make the choice to be with Him: the ones with the child-like faith in Him. Perhaps even the ones who died before they had a chance to make a choice if they were too young to know about Him or never heard of Him.

I think God put mankind into motion, starting with Adam and Eve, to create His family – a family who WANTS to be with Him, not just a bunch of robots He could have created. I can tell you that when my children do something for me because they want to, it fills my heart with joy and appreciation. I feel the love! But when they are merely obeying something I told them to do, although I appreciate it, it just feels like “OK, good, you’re cooperating with the plan”. It doesn’t feel like friendship. It feels like they are doing it because they have to. I think God just might have that same kind of feeling. After all, we humans were created in His image, and that’s not just a visage in a mirror.

Being in this world full of temptations and pain, it can be easy to just give up and not get to know the One who loves us and longs for our love in return. It is them who will not be in the fold. We don’t need a bunch of hateful humans spoiling the unity when we are in that perfect place He has created for us, which is NOT this world. Look what happened to Lucifer when he rebelled. He was thrown to earth. Eww, earth!

This world is not our home. I really believe that. As the Bible says, this is our temporary tent from which we are groaning to be free.

Too many times, I see and hear people talking glibly about how God can make things better for them here on this earth. I don’t know what Scriptural basis there is for that. Look at all the awful things that were recorded in the Bible that happened to the people who are now with Jesus, to whom at the time they looked forward as their coming Messiah. Look at how King David lost his son. Look at Elijah being so depressed that he ran off to the wilderness and stayed there being fed by crows. Look at Jeremiah who wished he were never born. Look at Jonah running from God. All these humans were being used by God, looking toward the coming of Jesus as Messiah (see here), as part of the plan. Now Jesus has come, and we by faith in Him look forward to eternity with Him.

The stuff we see in this world is often bad. Very bad. We even sometimes are guilty of the bad stuff ourselves, all being sinners with the tendency to do what we want, even if it’s not good for us. Darn free will, eh? But the beauty in that free will is that we can also choose Jesus. And in choosing Him, we have assurance of salvation. I’m definitely going to be with Him in the end of my earthly timeline, off to begin life the way He intended it in the garden of Eden – perfect.

We will only be disappointed if we expect to find God’s perfect kingdom on earth, even though there are preachers out there who are saying His kingdom is already here. Nope. Look around. This is not God’s kingdom. This is still a place under Satan’s influence. No matter how hard we try here, we are not going to make this dying world into the perfect place God has prepared for us with mansions, where gold is something so common that it paves the streets like asphalt, a crystal clear river of life, the tree of life with its twelve different fruits, no need for lamp or light because the Lord God is the light there, and things I cannot even imagine, but the best part is that there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. I could dance just thinking of that part!

I often remind myself that without the hard times on earth, I might not have such a longing for heaven. If life were perfect here, who’d realize their need for a Savior?

The Ultimate Repair

This was where I sat on Mother’s Day last year, in the sunshine, overlooking a lake, at the top of a small hill. The best part was that I was talking on the phone to my mom.

Today, the lake is still there. The sun will still shine. The hill I can still climb. But my mother is gone.

That beautiful Mother’s Day was the last time I got to talk to my mom. A week later, as she was walking home from Sunday church meeting, she had a massive stroke.

A woman driving by saw my mom fall and went to help her. My mom told the woman her name and where she lived, and then she lost consciousness.

The woman went to the assisted-living complex where my mom lived and left her number in case there were family members who wanted to talk to her.

I got a call from the complex and received the woman’s number. I called her and she told me about having seen my mom fall and having spoken to her. She said she called an ambulance and waited with her till they arrived. She told me my mom was calm and pleasant – which I know is so characteristic of her.

Hospital staff called to let me know my mom was unconscious. A few of my kids and I started driving the six hours to go see her, but four hours into the trip, my sister messaged to let me know it was too late. So, we got a hotel and went home the next day.

The doctor told me my mom was not in pain, and that she died peacefully, with no struggle. The stroke simply was too major and left her beyond repair.

I look forward to the ultimate repair, where nothing will erode or corrode the perfection given to us by God, free from sin and its effects of slowly – and sometimes more quickly – killing the body.

And I believe I will see my mom again, in her new body, in a better place. That is one moment to which I look forward, as well as to seeing the other believers I miss who have passed on. But even if I didn’t know anyone else who followed Jesus, I trust I will be in the presence of them all, and we’ll all be on the same page.

No more conflict. No more pain. No more of anything that destroys.

Unity, at last, with the focus of our adoration and gratitude flowing toward our Loving Savior.

(See you soon, Mom. You know I’m coming Home, and then we will never again be apart.)

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].” (1 Peter 5:10, Amplified Version of the Bible)

[This post started out as a comment here. Thanks, G.W., for encouraging me to use it.]