waiting impatiently

My impatient tendencies are no big secret, just ask the Hubs. Again last week this unfavorable characteristic was starkly illuminated. “Patience is a virtue,” Mrs. Danehy would admonish whenever one of her girls interrupted my piano lesson. Forty years on you might think I’d have it mastered? Nope. When my daughter-in-law reminds my granddaughter to put on her “patient pants,” I smile in empathy. I hope she learns more quickly than her GiGi.

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winter walk

Forget about the calendar. Winter is the longest season. A North Country winter is custom made waiting. Just as most of nature slumbers through the cold, we can’t seem to help ourselves from snuggling into flannel sheets earlier and earlier as daylight hours shrink. I simultaneously look forward to and dread winter each year, an internal tug-of-war once revealed in “Winter’s Gift.

But winter and I have made friends / For all of the reasons that defy friendships / To develop in spite of our differences
I’ve learned to accept her moodiness / And to ignore her bad behavior because / On her good days she is simply stellar

The beautiful synergy between our longest, darkest season and Advent always encourages me. Generations came and went, kings and kingdoms rose and fell, as God’s people longed for the promised one. Over centuries of spiritual darkness, they hoped and longed for the light.

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. … The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness a light will shine. Isaiah 9:1-2

That ancient season played out on an intergalactic scale, a game-changing wait over hundreds of years with implications to eternity. We know the end of the story and how God proved faithful as the darkness of death was eradicated. Perhaps as a result, something deep within me responds during this annual season of hopeful longing.

noco winter img_3732

The North Country sets a perfect stage for Advent reflections. The sun drops below the horizon increasingly earlier as fall slips into winter. Dusk darkens quickly into an inky blackness extending from the riverbank in one direction to forest in the other. Our home perches on the knoll in between, snug and tight against the night. As temps drop we hunker down inside, weary to the bone, relieved for respite of evening. We wait for light of morning and long for the warmth of spring. 

The light of day chases darkness away, always faithfully even if hesitantly. Sometimes winter’s sunlight is thin and weak, canvasing the landscape with an ethereal, otherworldly glow.  Under perfect conditions, steam rising from the river crystalizes on every stalk, twig and leaf, gloriously transforming the landscape.

Often the North Country day breaks behind the ridge across the river in a blush of peachy pink that takes my breath away. The rising sun streams bold and bright, stark against brazen blue skies. It bounces off ribbons of ice between the banks and skips across snow-dusted cornfields. Cornstalks lie close-cropped and stubbled like an old man’s beard, tripping it up along the way.  

Sooner or later, sister sun peeks in my window, calling me out of my cocoon, urging me into my coat and boots for a wake-up walk. I trudge across the fields to the riverbank, marveling at how the mundane has been transformed to exquisite overnight. When in a whisper the morning light transforms snow crystals to diamond dust, I can hardly bear the beauty.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:12

The 2018 advent season was particularly poignant because the entire year seemed relatively dark with difficulties. One after another, they began in March and piled up until we wondered if we would ever see the end. Inching along unsteadily these many months, invariably, a flash of light swept the pathway to lend encouragement at just the right time. Inspired by these brief illuminations — generous kindnesses, good words, new solutions, wise counsel, fateful conversations, thoughtful considerations — we’ve pressed on, confident in our source of hope. 

We may not have seen the end of this season of trials but we are being transformed on the journey. Winter is accomplishing her purpose; we wait for the land to return to fruitfulness. Meanwhile, we will walk in the light. 

~ Sondra

remembering my dad

Today marks the tenth anniversary of my dad’s passing. I can still see him so clearly; it seems impossible a decade has passed. I’m reminded of his impact in large and small ways. Career decisions. Problem solving strategies. Likes and dislikes. Phobias and passions. Familiar characteristics reveal like trail markers around the bend as Dad’s sense of humor, abilities, and attributes present in grandchildren and great-grands alike. I am glad the generations continue to bear witness to my dad.

This morning I came across the video I made after dad’s memorial service. I slipped it into the DVD drive and slid back in time to a tiny Adirondack church packed tight with family and friends. The service was a rich and meaningful celebration of his life. My favorite part was when his grandchildren performed a heartfelt rendition of I’ll Fly Away, their voices raised on the wings of the hope he’d professed. I smiled, cherishing the distinct sounds of my children’s voices in the beautiful chorus.
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rv recon

Immediately after visiting the state fair, we set off to reconnoiter RVs. The Hubs has been hot on the trail of the “perfect” RV since we bailed on our rental and Quebec beluga trip in July. His exhaustive research yielded a pretty good idea of what we might want to purchase. He also discovered that between two Syracuse dealerships we could see most of those he thought we should investigate more closely.

After 35 years, let’s just say I know this man. Before we made the first stop, we had a little chat. Just for the record.

Me: “We aren’t buying anything today. Agreed? You sometimes get excited and make a spontaneous purchases. Just want to be sure we’re on the same page.”

He: “Well, I might have purchased a couple JetSkis without talking with you.  [Umm, yeah. Case in point!] But no, I would not purchase on this scale without discussion.”

Me: “Whew, that’s a relief. We’re just not ready.”

Even if all the stars aligned on make, model and price, I knew we were not ready to buy. We had nowhere to store it, for one thing. No time to use it, for another. We’d be foolish to burn through 6 or 8 months of warranty while we completed other obligations. It’s all too easy to become caught up in the possibilities and excitement of this new adventure. Prudence must prevail!
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blue ribbon day

A few weeks ago the Hubs and I spent a day at the state fair. It is a cheap date and a lot of fun when you time it right. We got lucky, it seems, especially with a break in the heat and humidity. The sky was heavily cluttered with clouds and crowds were down despite three-dollar-Thursday admission. Parking was only $5. Bonus: It was dairy day!

We smiled at the woman carrying a ginormous stuffed animal on a long trek back to the parking lot. We’d no interest in rides, games or trinkets any more than in performances or shows. We were running late due to a ’round about route — neither Google nor On Star GPS could get us to fairground parking without a hitch. Our first priority was lunch. Locally-sourced, if you please. Think Spiedie chicken or Dinosaur Bar-B-Que rather than fried dough and corn dogs. We planned a leisurely tour of agricultural barns and exhibits. Most of all, we looked forward to dairy displays.
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spirit of bart

I think every parent has a story or two they’d like to bury beyond retrieval? Something they said or did they sincerely regret? Something they hope and pray their chids will forget? Me, too. I suppose you’re lucky if it’s only one or two. (I have at least a few dozen.) So please don’t bother to continue unless you promise not to judge me!
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of bridges and breezes

It’s hard to believe I’m six months along on my journey to new normal. I still don’t know exactly what that means but along the way time seems to have vaporized. Like a retiree, “I don’t know how I ever had time to work!” Except that I’m not yet retired.

In some ways, it did feel like a retirement transition. I left my career behind — but not for winters in the tropics. I’ve started a new business; I’m also pitching in on our family dairy rebuilding from a disastrous barn fire. I’m the first to admit this has been an anxiety-inducing season.

I’ve spent more time breath-praying angst away these six months than in the last six years combined! Turns out, my professional life was among the least of my concerns. Thankfully, we’ve all made good progress. Hopefulness is rising in me like the cool breeze of late summer’s eve. I can smell a new season on the air.

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