Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Late Memorial

Sometimes in the spring I think about my great-grandmother, Lois Earnest. She passed away in the spring, seven years ago, and she was one of the toughest people I've ever known, she was tough for her gratitude. I only wish my boys could have known her.

She was married at 18, already several months pregnant with her first child. Her and her husband lived on a genuine Idaho homestead in the mountains above Grangeville, in North Idaho. This was a serious homestead--log cabin and all. Her father-in-law first established it, and used to nurse cavalry soldiers back to health there who had been injured in wars against the Indians. Both my grandfather and his older brother were raised there, until the land was taken away by the IRS for payment of back taxes.

From that time on she lived in many different places, mostly traveling with her husband who was a miner. For several years she lived in a tarpaper shack that my great-grandfather built along the banks of the Clearwater River. There was a small community of miners there, and they lived in homes with no running water, electricity, or insulation, in a place where the snow often got high enough to not see out the windows. The only place you could walk was the narrow pathway to the outhouse and back.

My great-grandfather mined for gold along the river, and often got into trouble doing things like digging a mine tunnel under the highway. Not realizing that he was directly under the highway he had my great-Uncle Jim hand him several loads of dynamite to blow through a particularly hard rock. It wasn't until they set the dynamite and crawled out to safety, that they realized they had blown a crater through the middle of the highway. They had to pay the highway department to fix it.

This was the 1930s, and a difficult time for most people financially. My great-grandfather was the only one in his community who owned a rifle, and he would hike into the mountains and shoot several deer in a day, then go around from house to house and tell the locals where the deer were so they could hike up themselves, pack it out, and butcher it for their family. Since he saved many families from starving, the local Fish & Game warden turned a blind eye to his over-limit shooting. I still own his rifle, with his name carved into the side, stained with the blood of those deer.

When my great-Uncle Jim was about 20 he was killed in a bar fight, resulting over a particularly beautiful woman. Her younger son, my grandfather, eloped with his girlfriend at 15. They took off across Montana to try to get married in North Dakota, were there was still no age of consent. She sent the cops after them, but they didn't make it in time--the teenagers were already married. They had my Dad a year later, at 16, and are still married to this day. In his late 20s my grandfather was injured in a mining accident and never walked again.

My great-grandfather passed away in the early 1970s, after many years of battling tuberculosis. My great-grandmother married again in the late 1970s, to an old family friend. He began to take her to church regularly, and even after he passed away she was a faithful attendee. As she began to lose her mind, the only thing that kept her anchored was church on Sunday. As the week went by, she became more and more confused, until Sunday morning, when she was reborn.

The only thing she ever lost was her mind. My grandfather used to proudly state that she had never been sick in her life, and she only suffered from arthritis in both her knees. As long as I knew her she walked like she was waddling, with her knees buckled together.

The most remarkable thing about her is that the only time I ever heard her complain was on particularly cold mornings she would say, "Oooo, my knees are hurting a bit today." She was always gracious, kind, and cheerful, even when she couldn't remember who her own family members were. Once, at a family gathering, where many were bickering and nit-picking at each other, she just sat in her chair and smiled. "Isn't it just wonderful to have everyone together?" She said to me with a smile on her face. The only time I can recall her not smiling was when her second husband died of complications from a stroke when I was in junior high.

When I am tempted to be grumpy and unhappy with what God has given me, I like to remember her life and graciousness with which she lived it. She outlived two husbands and one son, braved log cabin winters, and crippling arthritis. She never complained, and in fact lived to know at least one great-great grandson (due to the family habit of marrying and having children quite early). At the end of her life she was a sweet and pleasant woman, filled with gratitude, and no complaints.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Can't Believe That This is Not a Joke

Honestly, I don't know whether I should laugh or cry after seeing this. OK, that's not true, I only laughed. Really, why would you seek out unbelievers to care for your pets, and not seek them out for the gospel? Would it really matter whether or not Fido got his daily walk once the bowls of God's judgment were being poured out on mankind?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Better Hot Dogs with Love, Than Organic Food and Ungratitude

My old friend from college, Hannah Grieser, has a great post on her blog about enjoying all of the food God made in the world. You can read it here.

I love good food as much as the next person, I love eating it and I love making it. On my honeymoon I once spent more on a bottle of wine than on our hotel room for that night. In fact, I tend to think that most of our country's eating disorders come from not loving food enough--such as being grateful to God for all of it, and not treating hunger on the same level as an itch you need to scratch.

Still, our priorities are all confused if we believe that we can somehow attain righteousness by feeling guilty for having eaten food that was not gourmet. As if I needed to repent of listening to folk music, because I could have listened to Mozart. One example of this lack of proportion I recently saw in San Francisco--the "Healthy San Francisco Initiative" now taxes every restaurant patron in order to promote healthy lifestyles. I wonder if those lifestyles involve worshiping the true God weekly and raising godly children? San Francisco could definitely use more of that, and certainly not abortionists who encourage me to eat my vegetables