Archive for November, 2012

To Have It All

My first thought when entering Florence, Oregon, is that this is a small community that seems to have it all. You have the Pacific Ocean to the west, pined hills to the east, and sand dunes smack dab in the middle of it all. And the businesses here seem to be just as diverse.

I found a nice quilt shop right off the highway and, of course, I just had to do a little shopping. It’s not as if I don’t have enough fabric, but to be able to say that I bought a piece of fabric in every state is just mind blowing to me. I thought “I just have to have it all” much like this town has. I found some unique finds and the help was oh so friendly. It just made me want to stay, but as usual, my stay here would be short.

I spent the day doing a lot of window shopping, ate at a fabulous seafood restaurant, and got back to the RV park I was staying at in time for the community dance the park was having. Not being a dancer, I opted to sit and watch the retired community members show me what they could do; so many could really cut a rug. It made me a bit jealous that I had never had the confidence to just get out there and learn. I guess I was just too independent most of my life to let go and stop leading, something most men don’t like, but I certainly had fun watching these senior couples as they spun around the dance floor. It seemed to me, at times, that they weren’t two people dancing, but one body floating across the floor. Harmony and synchronicity was prevalent in that amphitheater, and those seniors made me feel like I had all that I needed right there.

But as with so many things in life, the dance ended, and it was time for me to head to bed. I had a long day ahead of me, and I was bound and determined that I was going to make it to California before the year’s end. I was grateful for all the wonderful people I had met, the awesome sights this place has, and the time I was able to spend in this fine community. I’ve often said on this ride of mine, how wonderful God is to have blessed us with so many things. I prayed that night that we all would start seeing this world as God had intended us to see it. I know that God is not happy with the divisions we’ve created on earth, and although I’m only one person and incapable of ridding this world of those divisions, I knew that I could be making small changes with those divisions as I traveled my way through each state. After all, even small changes are an improvement over what we currently have. I ended my prayers thanking God for all the gifts He gives to us each and every day, and promised Him that I would try to recognize something new, some gift of His, with every town I’ll be staying in. And if I could help one person in each town that I go through, I would feel like this trip had a purpose greater than being able to say I traveled through every state in the United States. I fell asleep feeling so close to God. I knew that I truly did have it all right then.

And in my real world, I’m sad to say that Catholic Charities deals with many who do not have it all. Some have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. It’s sad to see, especially at these holiday times. But I know that the staff at Catholic Charities does all they can to help each client with whatever their needs are.
It makes me appreciate the things I have. I may not be rich in wealth, but I’m certainly rich in love. Like those senior couples I spoke about in my virtual world who shared their lives with each other for years, and their love was overwhelming. It’s the love of my family and friends that has gotten me through many a hard time. A friend of mine just spoke on Facebook about how she was thanked by a friend of hers for a small act of kindness she did for that person. And several years ago, while I was visiting my uncle in San Francisco, we were stunned when the car ahead of us had paid our Golden Gate Bridge fee. They didn’t know us and we didn’t know them. Sometimes it’s those little unknown things that we do that makes a person feel like they have it all. So as we enter these holiday times, let’s all try to help someone through some random act of kindness. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t even have to cost you anything, it simply needs to be something that makes that person feel like they count in this world. And imagine the grin on God’s face if we all do one small deed. God bless you all, Happy Thanksgiving, and let’s keep going the distance.

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Giving Thanks

My travels have taken me south to Yachats, Oregon, a small coastal city in Lincoln County, Oregon.  After getting myself checked in at the hotel I was staying at, I did a little snooping around.  I discovered that this town was voted one of the “Ten Coolest Small Towns of the US” in 2007.  I could see why it received this accolade as the town sits right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean with a forested hillside surrounding it.  It’s beauty takes your breath away.

I also discovered quite the history here; a history not so becoming of the beauty this area holds.  This region has been inhabited for at least 1,500 years with radiocarbon tests being done on the remains of a pit house that showed it dated back to 570 AD.  The town was built on sea shell middens and numerous graves from past inhabitants.  That sort of freaked me out knowing that I could be walking on someone’s remains.  And it shocked me that when these skeletons were found when Highway 101 was being built along with other buildings, they were simply bulldozed into the fill dirt. 

And this total disregard for the early inhabitants of this area continued.  Native American tribes were forcibly moved to a reservation 80 miles north of where they had called home and where they were able to provide for their families.  No longer were they hunters and gatherers.  Now they had to make a living planting crops and many crops planted near the ocean failed causing many deaths by starvation.  My blood was boiling thinking about how arrogant the white man was.  It was if they thought this world belonged totally to them and that they could do anything they wanted to get what they wanted.  And even though these tribes were finally allowed access to the Yachats River Valley where they were able to grow potatoes, oats, wheat, and corn, and allowed to hunt again, in 1875 they were once again forced to move because of the white man’s desire to homestead where they were living.

But that’s history and this area is simply beautiful.  I knew I couldn’t change the history of this area, but I could make sure that I not only treated this area with respect since it is a gift from God, but that I also treat everyone I meet with respect.  And this town seemed to have that same mindset, for each July 4th the Yachats la de da Parade is held and anyone in the town can participate.  I saw photos of this parade and it boasts entries from the Yachats Umbrella Drill Team to belly dancers, to the fire department to the Oregon Central Coast PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  It seemed to me that this town has learned God’s lesson that we are all His children.  And with all the activities this town has year-round, it shows that they are all thankful for the blessings God bestows on them.

I visited the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and the Heceta Head Lighthouse.  I also went to the Little Log Church and Museum, the North Fork of the Yachats Bridge, and the Gerdemann Botanical Preserve.  All in all, my stay in Yachats was enjoyable if not memorable.  I thanked God as I left Yachats for giving me the chance to be a part of their fine community even if it was only for a day.

And in my real life, as I prepare for the holidays, I am thankful that God has brought my sister and brother-in-law back to Colorado Springs.  Having them close to us again has brought such joy to both my mother and me.  I’m thankful for my entire family both immediate and extended since they all play such key roles in my life.  Without them, I would not be who I am today.  I’m thankful that we live in these United States where we can agree to disagree and still love each other.  And I’m thankful for the job I have at Catholic Charities for it was here where I learned just how sheltered I had been for so many years, and how I had been ignoring God’s prompts to be a steward for Him. 

I knew there were poor in Colorado Springs and in the world, but did I really see them?  I did not.  In fact, prior to working here, I did everything to avoid the poor and downhearted.  Every time I heard the word “Stewardship”, I cringed, yetI felt God tugging at me to become a steward of His word.  But I fought Him for years.  Then finally one day, after being laid off from my previous job, I found myself working for Catholic Charities.  God had managed to put me smack dab in the middle of His stewardship and I love it.  He won; thankfully He won.

Catholic Charities is truly a steward of God’s word.  We strive to treat everyone with respect and dignity.  Race, color, religion does not matter at Catholic Charities.  We are here to help those in need in whatever way our funding allows us to help.  Through sound leadership, the staff at Catholic Charities has been able to help many people go from a desperate state of life to a comfortable state.  We pride ourselves on giving a hand up and not a hand out.

So as we move towards Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, take some time to think about what you are thankful for, how much you have, and maybe how much you can give to the community that you live in.  And don’t be like I was for all those years, fighting God about stewardship.  Stewardship is quite rewarding and you’ll find that you have that much more to be thankful about by simply being a steward of God.  God bless you all, happy Thanksgiving, and let’s continue to go the distance.

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A Little Fish in the Big Sea

My mind and body are in overdrive since dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon.  I found myself riding harder, yet I was still taking in the beauty of this fine state.  My route, for this leg of the trip, takes me right down the Pacific coastline.  I find myself stopping frequently just to watch those waves crash against the rocks.  It’s an awesome sight, but it makes me realize just how powerful these waters are and how small I am compared to those mighty waves.  At one stop I can hardly believe my eyes; right off the shoreline I see several whales, and my heart does a flip flop as I take in the beauty and almost ballerina-like movements these giant mammals display.  I felt like I had died and gone to Heaven for seeing these creatures of God was awe inspiring.

I finally make it to Newport, Oregon, and get checked into the Best Western Plus Agate Beach Inn.  It’s a nice hotel, not far from the shoreline.  I was told about the whale watching that I could participate in, and I was excited to tell them that God had already given me that opportunity.  The staff was pleased then told me about several other things I might opt to partake in such as the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Newport’s Yaquina Lighthouse.  I was told their goal, at this hotel, was to make my stay there as memorable as possible.  I had to ask “Is this because I’m the crazy lady riding across this country?”  The clerk smiled and said “Well, sort of, but truly, we try to make each guest feel special.”  I assured them that they had succeeded, and that I’d be telling all my friends about this place.

I took my bags to my room, knowing that my biking gear had been safely stored away in the hotel’s storage area.  I found myself tired and needing a nap.  I opened my window, and was immediately graced with a cool ocean breeze that lulled my tired body to sleep.  I dreamed that I was out on the ocean, and a whale had come up to my boat and allowed me to touch it.  I felt one with the ocean, one with the whale, and one with the world.  Then a wave crashed in over the side of my boat almost pushing me over the side.  Fear struck me, and I jolted awake.  I lay there for a moment thinking about that dream and wondering if there was any meaning to it.  I decided that maybe God was telling me that all things on earth are good, but that one needs to stay in the protection of His hands; after all, we are all just a little fish in the big sea.  And being a little fish in that big sea isn’t a bad thing, it just means you can’t throw caution to the wind and think that you are shielded from all evil.

I shook off the dream, although it continued to haunt me some, and took those recommended tours of the aquarium and lighthouse.  Both were spectacular and delivered everything that one finds in their advertisements.  I saw incredible fish and sea creatures, and the lighthouse was amazing.  It brought back fond memories of a trip my sister, brother-in-law, and I took to California several years ago where we saw a lighthouse just north of San Francisco with our uncle who lives in San Rafael.  It was such a fun trip, being able to see something you never see when you’ve lived inland all your life.  And to have had that time with our uncle, well, it was priceless.  My uncle is unable to take such trips now, so having those memories of that trip is something I hold near and dear to my heart.

That evening I ate at the Chowder Bowl, a fabulous restaurant with a superb seafood menu.  And upon my return to the hotel, I decided that this town was just too nice to leave after not even a full day.  I paid for another night at the hotel and was able to scope out the town the next day.  I had another fabulous meal at the Saffron Salmon, and knew when I went to bed that night that God had graced me with this wonderful experience. 

And in my real world I am sad to say that my boss, my mentor, is leaving Catholic Charities and moving on to other things in life.  He has made a profound difference in my life, and I’m happy that he became a part of my little sea.  I think our lives are like little pools of water, and when we combine them throughout the day it creates a larger body of water.  And when you think about all the people you come in contact with just in one day, imagine all those bodies of water banning together and creating that mighty ocean.  We are all a part of that great body of water, and we all have the ability to make a statement, an impact in that body of water.  Just because we are small in comparison doesn’t mean we aren’t needed to complete God’s work.  So remember that each of us has a place in this ocean of God and it is okay being a little fish in a big sea.  We can’t all be those mighty whales, but we can still be a vital part of this great world we live in.  God bless and may you be mighty no matter what size of fish you are.  And God bless my boss.  I pray that God continues to direct you through the waters of life so that our seas combined become an ocean.   And as always, let’s keep going the distance.

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