Hiccups, Harrumphs, and Hallelujahs

This is a tale of a journey. A journey is usually not truly about the beginning or the end, but the traveling along the way. Life is usually seen the same way. But every part of the journey is critical. My Total Knee Replacement has been my most recent journey. It hasn’t gone as I expected and there have been some hiccups along the way. Not to mention a bit of grunting, groaning and harrumphing. But those are normal. It’s hard work to make a very swollen knee bend and straighten. I began well and thought it would be piece of cake. But we are not always traveling on smooth flat roads in life. Sometimes life throws curves, hills and ditches. There have been some things about this recovery process that I wasn’t expecting, though have since found out are very normal. What I need to remember is that starting well and finishing well don’t always look the same and it is what is in between that can determine the outcome. Continuing well is the key. Ending well is our aim.  Then we can shout Hallelujah!

The vast majority of babies born begin well. Think of the sweet little babies that were oohed and ahhed over, but grew up to be an Adolf Hitler, or a Nero, or on a smaller scale, a crazed young person who goes into a school or a theater and begins shooting away his wrath that is not even aimed at these victims, though they become the recipients of that wrath. At one point they were precious little babies. Sweet. Tender. Beautiful. But . . . they did not end well! What happened? In between beginning well, and ending well is continuing well! That is the journey. They made wrong turns or were sent on wrong roads by misguided others. Their journey did not go where it was supposed to go. Somehow, they did not continue well.

You say that is pretty drastic thinking. Yes. Not everyone who does not end well becomes a murderer. Some may not end well, but on a much smaller scale, and one that is not so morally frought. It may be something totally different, and each one of us has our own areas of failure. OK, more likely many areas. Let’s be honest. We are not perfect and neither is our journey. But it is not just the ending that is important, though that is our aim, our goal, our vision. We must not lose sight of the vision, but again, the daily toil is made up of continuing well.

There are also many, many people who seemingly did not begin well, but against all odds, by continuing well, they have ended well, or at least are keeping on continuing well. Here are a few wonderful examples: Jen Bricker, a young woman who was born without legs, but has grown up to be an incredible athlete and an inspiration to many- (http://jenbricker.com/); Jessica Long, another award-winning athlete without legs- (http://jessicalong.org/index.php/gallery/swimming); Mark Stutzman, a man born without arms who “does everything with his feet — eat, drive (non-modified vehicles, even stick shifts), write (more legibly than most people), and punch the keys on his cell phone faster than most people with their fingers.” (http://www.oddee.com/item_97470.aspx) Mark holds his own in Compound Bow Archery Tournaments, World Cup Tournaments, and even became an Olympic Medalist; Stephen Wiltshire who as a child, was mute and autistic, but is now a World Famous Artist who can draw extremely detailed cityscapes from memory after seeing them for just a few minutes. Check out his gallery: (http://www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk/gallery.aspx); Tanya Erhart, Joel Brown, and Toke Broni Strandby – talented dancers with physical handicaps who dance in the Candoco Dance Company. (http://www.candoco.co.uk/)The list is seemingly endless.

There are people in all walks of life who have challenges in life far greater than mine who have made so much more of their lives from a cultural, artistic, academic, or even political standpoint, and who stand out as inspirational icons to those who live life in the mediocre in so many aspects of our lives. Those people have continued well! They excel because they work hard to achieve their goals. They do not give up when the going gets tough. Life is a mighty tough journey for so many folks.

Sometimes life hands out poverty as a challenge, yet there are countless stories of folks who have worked hard and risen above poverty to go on to do amazing things in life. Sometimes those challenges come in the middle of one’s life. Like folks who have been in horrific accidents and needed limbs amputated or who have become quadriplegics. But instead of indulging in depression and lethargy, they have taken the challenge and worked hard and overcome by rising above the challenge and making the most of their lives. The examples are endless. It doesn’t have to be fame or fortune to end well. It can be triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. It can be simply putting one foot in front of the other when it seems that it is too hard to move at all.

But the best ending is what comes after this life. And so is the worst. Our journey affects that ending. The best ending comes after surrendering your life to Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, suffering its shame, and rose again after death, and has sat down at the right hand of God the Father. He offers new life, life everlasting. He offers the best ending. The worst ending is to reject Him and the gift of life He offers. Then one is choosing an eternity apart from Him and His mercy, suffering in hell where there is no mercy, love or comfort.

I really want to end well. I want my kids to end well. I want the noble calling of Christ to be their highest calling and aim, and I would love it if the journey were easy and the aim easy to achieve. But life is filled with pot-holes and detours, hiccups and hamstrings. And the journey is often accompanied by the harrumphing of those who are heaving themselves over the boulders strewn in their path. I’m sure you know what I mean. It is a very rare person indeed who has smooth sailing all the way and never hits an obstacle.

I call those obstacles, hiccups. They seem to come out of nowhere, and throw you for a loop with their intensity and duration. It’s no trouble at all to walk on the pebbles. It is very little effort to traverse a gravel path. But the bigger the rocks become, the more difficult it is to continue walking smoothly. Soon you must step carefully so as not to twist your ankle. Then the rocks grow more and you must step ON them to cross the river. Soon enough, you come to a place where there are boulders that either must be detoured around or climbed over. I have heard that is the way with the path up our Mt. Pilchuck. Maybe these physical hiccups and harrumphs are training me for climbing Pilchuck. But more importantly, all of my hiccups – my challenges and trials – are training me for climbing Mt. Zion, the city of God. God desires our unending devotion to Him, not because He is vain and wants it for Himself, but because He knows that by giving Him our devotion, by believing in Christ and submitting to His Lordship in our lives, we are overcomers, and our destination is assured – eternal life in heaven with Him. Not because we did it. But because He did it in us. And our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. If you don’t know about that Book, read the book of Revelation in the Bible.

My prayer for you is that you continue well, and end well, no matter what obstacles and hiccups are in your path. Look to the One Who holds your future in His hand. Seek Him and He will be found.

Keep calm and journey on!

Yours cordially,

Jorgie             J

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From Here to There

Well, OK. So, the title reminds me of Dr. Suess.  “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”  But that’s not what this is about, though I’m sure Dr. Seuss was a fan of getting moving too.  🙂

Yesterday my walker and I walked 6 blocks. It took me 20 minutes. Today I went on two short walks, totaling 10 blocks in all. It feels pretty good to get moving. But I recognize that 6 blocks on flat pavement is nothing more than a drop in the bucket compared to a 6 mile round trip hike up and down a mountainside, complete with rocks, roots, and steep ascents. So how DO I get from here to there? I have been looking up fitness training blogs, hiking prep blogs, etc. And no two people have the exact same thing to say . . . But they do agree on a few things. Start easy and work up. Go a little farther, or a little longer, or a little steeper in small increments. Go longer and longer distances. Do increasingly more difficult terrain little by little. What kinds of incremental goals do I need to set, and more importantly, I think, when do I need to reach each goal by?

I think I can keep up the 6 block distance for a bit, though sometimes I just go around the block (4 blocks total). Next I need to try to increase my time a bit. Then I need to go 8 or 10 blocks, then increase the time in which I can do it . . . Keep adding distance, increasing time goals, and trying out bigger hills. That might be a bit of a challenge as it is pretty flat around here. I will try to find something. City walks are OK, but just don’t compare to the beauty and peacefulness of country walks through the woods or fields. There is something more exciting out there than just city blocks. Nearly every city has park trails set aside. There are also interurban (between-city) trails using old, unused railroad beds that have been transformed into walking/hiking/ biking trails. Short treks in the city can offer beautiful scenery and more varied terrain. And the Interurban Trail and the Centennial Trail might be good in-betweenies. These need to be my in-between goals, working from flat, city blocks, to longer but still fairly flat trails, to steeper trails. Over the next few months that is my goal, little by little.

I figure if I plan to try a 6 mile hike in, say, August, which is about 6 or 7 months away, then I need to be ready for a one-mile walk next month, a two mile walk in two months, a three mile hike in three months, etc. Working my way up to the 2.7 mile uphill climb, (then back down again) of Pilchuck. I looked up several local jaunts ranging from short, flat, and easy, to longer, steeper, and moderately difficult. That is how I plan to make it up Mt. Pilchuck this summer! (Along with my daily PT routine to strengthen my knee and legs.) Each month I want to include a walk/hike on one of the trails listed below (or several such walks really). I am sure there are more, but they are a good start.

How about you? What are your goals to get you there? What do you need to do to get ready? Come on Pilchuckies! Who’s with me? Are you walking daily? Are you increasing it a bit from time to time? Let’s set a goal to try to increase our distance and our strength and endurance. I just graduated from using a walker full time, to being able to maneuver my home with just a single-point cane. My next goal is to be able to manage my longer walks with just the cane, but so far I need all four legs of the walker for stability. But I am gaining headway! WooHoo! Progress, progress, progress!

Here’s just a few ideas for my local friends who want to share the trails or branch off on one of your own. If you are not local and want to begin your own training for a physical goal for yourself, I would love to hear from you and hear what you are doing. What is your goal? Your mountain? Doesn’t need to be an actual mountain. Set a goal and aim for it. Its hard to reach any goal if you are not moving. So let’s get moving! J And no, you don’t get to use the weather as an excuse. At least not here in the Pacific Northwest! Rain? No problem. That’s what coats, gloves, rubber boots and umbrellas are for. Though more likely you will ditch the umbrella and let the rain fall where it may because around here we rust instead of tanning and this is the season for that lovely rusty color! Haha!

Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary: near Boeing in Everett, ½ mi.

Dorothy Cleveland Trail – South Whidbey with a 400 foot climb – .7 mi.

Southwest County Park – Edmonds – .7 mi.

Lowell Riverfront Park – Everett – 1.75 – 3.5 mi. easy hike along river.

Japanese Gulch – Mukilteo – 2 miles easy trail

Green Lake Loop – Seattle – 2.8 mi.

Langus Riverfront Park next to Spencer Island – flat, easy. 3 miles

Spencer Island Bird Sanctuary Loop – 3-5 miles, easy, flat, mostly paved.

Meadowdale County Park – Lynnwood – 2.9 miles

Centennial Trail with several local trailheads

Interurban Trail with several different trailheads

Lake 22 – Mt. Loop Hwy. 1.8 mi, 3.6 r.t. steep climb

Have fun! We will see you out there – my walker and I. Thanks for dropping by for my pep talk! 

Yours cordially,

Jorgie   🙂

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3

Knee Replacement – What’s It Like?

Are you thinking of having Total Knee Replacement? Wondering what to expect? I’m thinking perhaps there are some who might like a little peek into the recovery process, before jumping onto the Knee Replacement bandwagon, so to speak. Haha! As if jumping is even in your vocabulary at this point, right? Before having this one done, I was about as capable of jumping as I was of flying. Um, well, I still can’t fly or jump, so maybe that is not the best analogy. But I HOPE to be able to jump again, eventually. After the next knee gets replaced.

My surgery was two and a half weeks ago, so it is pretty fresh in my mind- at least my mind is fresher now than when I was drugged up with strong pain meds. I was definitely a bit loopy for awhile.   But I can give you an idea of what it has been like if you are curious. I definitely tried to research it quite a bit before going in, and would have appreciated a first-hand account.

I went in for an early afternoon surgery which didn’t end up taking place til early evening, and that seemed to make the difference between whether they got me up the same day to walk or to wait til the next day. If it had been done earlier, then I would have been a candidate for getting up the same day, but with an evening surgery, plus recovery time, that didn’t work our well. So the next morning, after breakfast, a PT came to my room and got me up on my feet, arranged a walker in front of me, and while holding onto the thick strap they had buckled onto me to make it easier to keep hold of me in case I fell, they had me take a few steps. Keep in mind I was only about 8 hours post surgery, and quite drugged up with the various meds they were pumping into me- so I took about three steps and nearly fainted.

Nausea overwhelmed me briefly and the PT quickly got me back to sitting down and raised my legs up on the reclining chair. I was unable to even raise my own leg by myself. As the morning progressed, I became less nauseous, but they decided to wheel me down to the PT Class rather than have me walk on my own. Most of the rest of the Knee/Hip replacement patients were already there, and were doing significantly better than I in terms of being awake and walking. But they also had their surgeries earlier in the day, the day before, and had been up and walking more. They must do the joint replacement folks in batches, because they had us doing everything as a group. The PT’s put us through a series of exercises which were painful but manageable. Our coaches were supposed to be there to help us learn how to do the exercises right. My husband had come to help me, but about half way through the class, he received a call from my oldest daughter, who had fallen and re-injured her knee. He had to rush home to take her to the Doctor. I was left there by myself, wondering and worrying about her condition, praying for grace both for her, and for myself as I was being put through ‘pain and torture’.

Later that day, the Aides came and got me up a couple more times to try walking and each time it got a little bit easier, though very slow. I developed a deep appreciation for the walker.

Meanwhile I waited anxiously for word of my daughter, who had fallen on the very same knee that had been injured 4 months earlier and had ACL repair two months ago. She ended up in the Group Health Clinic exactly next door to Overlake Hospital where I was. They X-rayed her knee and found she had broken her kneecap in three pieces! And I was stuck in the hospital and couldn’t go be with her. But it was already evening by the time they decided on a course of action, and rather than doing surgery that night, they sent her home in an Immobilization Brace and told her to come back the next day for surgery. My husband took her home, then back again for what was supposed to be a mid-morning surgery, but ended up being mid-day the next day instead.

That was the day I was to be discharged. Can you believe it? Only two days in the hospital after they cut the leg open from above the knee to below it – probably about 6 or 7 inches, clamped it open, sawed off the ends of the two leg bones, drilled holes, pounded the new parts in after smothering them with glue, and sewed it back up! Really pretty amazing when you consider all that is done with it. I went home to begin the recovery process in earnest. Daily PT routines, which includes heel pumps and thigh tightening to keep the blood flowing and prevent blood clots, plus heel slides, leg raises, lower leg straightening, leg slides, foot raising, etc.

The first several days are a bit of a blur because of the strong meds needed for pain. Sadly those meds are also constipating and make one’s brain pretty loopy. Since the surgery was just 3 days before Christmas for me and the day before, for my daughter, Christmas Day is not very memorable for either of us. Getting off those major meds was my first goal. I’m thinking it took about a week or so for getting off them in the daytime. I still need them at night. Oddly enough, night time is still far more painful than daytime. I can walk around with my walker and get the pressure off the sides and back of my leg during the day, but laying the leg against anything creates bone pain in the lower extremity. So both sitting with it elevated AND laying down with my leg against the mattress, or a pillow or my other leg all hurts. I asked and the Surgeon’s Assistant to whom I went for my Post-Op follow-up this week to get the staples removed, said it is normal.

My 19 year old son loves to come into the room where my daughter and I sit with our legs propped up together, to make lame jokes, pun intended. 😀 It keeps recovery lighthearted as he says it with a totally straight face, then gets a mischievous twinkle in his eye. A sense of humor is definitely helpful in the whole scheme of things. We got a chuckle tonight, as my daughter and I proceeded slowly around the block in the frosty twilight for a short walk, she on her crutches, and I with my walker. Cars were especially polite, slowing way down and moving as far off to the other side of the road as they could get, before slowly driving off. But we could not see the driver’s faces and were left wondering if we looked like a couple of escapees from the local Nursing Home. I half expected the Police to show up to try to escort us ‘back’ to some Facility.

I began just a few days after the surgery with PT appointments and have been going twice a week so far. But next week, I slow down slightly to one PT appointment per week and will do that for another month or so and then be reassessed. My progress has been good, probably because I see PT as my ticket to success and I am very diligent with the home Physical Therapy program. As I progress, my Physical Therapist has increased my regime, but it has been good and it is wonderful to know I am progressing. By good, I mean it is working, NOT that I enjoy it. Just wanted to clarify that. If you can enjoy pain then you might like having your Surgeon turn Carpenter and take out the existing knee structure and do a major remodeling job on your joint. But pain and I are not exactly good friends, so my meaning of good is not the pain part. It is the progress part. I went from barely being able to manage to bend the knee to 89 degrees the day after surgery, to now being able to bend it 108 degrees two and a half weeks post surgery. I am also able to straighten it fairly well. However, using my own muscles to do all that is excruciating at times and needs to be continually re-done or else it stiffens quickly and becomes unmanageable. Hence, lots of homework. And you thought you were done with homework when you graduated from school! Bwahaha! Just wait til you get to the PT’s Office for your weekly exam and you find out whether you have passed the test for the week or not. In this case, it truly is “No pain, no gain; Know pain, know gain.” But the pain is really just during the exercises and is minimal inbetween.

My youngest daughter nicknamed the Physical Therapist the Physical Terrorist, and I call my daily PT regime, Pain and Torture. When I am done I feel like shouting, “I survived the Pain and Torture ordered by my Physical Terrorist!” I’m thinking there ought to be T-shirts with that written on them. Though, really, my PT is awesome! He does a great job and is very encouraging.

What’s that you say? I’m scaring you off? Oops. Sorry. No, it will be worth it! Really! At least that is what I am continually told. I’m not exactly there yet, but I believe them. I’m waiting for that period of no pain, and it hasn’t arrived yet, but I have cut down considerably on strong pain meds and have my mind back again. I have journeyed back from the edge of the Loony Bin where I couldn’t seem to even carry on a conversation and would fall asleep on my husband when he tried to call and see how I was. He would yell into the phone, “Hey! Are you still there?!” Plus I am walking every day. Mostly just around the block at this point, plus a few laps in my house which is rather long, but I plan to continue to work it up little by little.

Setting goals helps. It gives me purpose and something to strive for. I also give myself little rewards. I play some favorite music while doing my PT exercises, and when I am done, I indulge in a small piece of chocolate! Just right for sucking on and salivating over after the pain. And by the way, the pain subsides as soon as I am done with each exercise, and I ice the knee right away after the session to cut down on swelling.

I also take a lovely little enzyme that my daughter-in-law introduced me to, called Serrapeptase, that reduces inflammation. While they (whoever they may be) say that inflammation works FOR your healing immediately Post-surgery because the right things are rushing to your knee’s defense and helping to fight infection, etc., I believe that after a week or so and a good bit of healing in the incision takes place, it is time to work on some of that inflammation in a natural way. And Serrapeptase is all natural. After all, what could be more natural than the stomach lining of silk worms, right? Haha! Don’t throw up. Its just a powdered substance in a pill form and you don’t have to think about what it is. Just what it does. Which is awesome stuff. Super helpful! Anyway, my blood pressure medicine is made from snake venom, so what’s the dif?

Just one further noteworthy tidbit. It is really not wise to take meds OR supplements without someone else knowing what you are doing and supervising it, even if you THINK you are not loopy anymore. Really. It could mean a trip to the ER. It did for me. And just so you know, there are some supplements that seem harmless or like really good stuff, but they will interact badly with meds you may be taking. Don’t take extra stuff unless you have to. Check with your Dr. first before you take anything. And write down EVERYTHING you take and what time you take it at, because you will be tired and you WILL forget and it is not good to take the pain peds too often, because they can cause liver damage, etc. I keep a little Tupperware container with my pain meds, a pen and a small tablet next to my water and record everything I ingest now, other than food. I don’t want to repeat the trip to ER.

Oh, one more last thing. 🙂 (Last things are like that sometimes. They can go on and on and on, like the energizer Bunny.) Celebrate those milestones. I just reached a notable one. At my PT appointment yesterday, I was told I could graduate from the walker to a cane for short walks! WooHoo! I still need the walker for extra stability in case I fall when I am on longer walks, but around the house I can use a cane. I have also occasionally not used any walking help when I am in the kitchen or laundry room because there are plenty of counters nearby to hold onto for support. And yes, I am completely capable of doing the laundry from start to finish, except for hauling the laundry basket from the laundry room to the table to fold stuff, and I let the kids do the putting away of most of it. I can also do some cooking, but can’t stand up long enough to prep a whole meal from start to finish. But we haven’t had to do much of our own cooking yet, because our church family has been awesome and brought us lots of home-cooked meals! You really should have help when you get home from surgery, at least for a week or so. And of course, you need someone to drive you to appointments for awhile. My church family has helped with that too! They are awesome. If you don’t have a church family, you should go to church and settle into one. One-anothering in the body of Christ is what God calls us to. It is a privilege to serve one another. And when your knee is better, you can return the favor and be blessed by giving.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into post-knee-replacement-life. If you are not a candidate for knee surgery, you can sympathize with someone who is. If you are considering it, now you know a wee bit more than you did before.

Thanks for stopping in. God bless you all.

Yours cordially,

Jorgie

 

Climbing Mt. Zion – An Analogy

Perhaps climbing Mt. Zion is not a very good analogy to climbing Mt. Pilchuck, but somehow that is where my thoughts took me. You see, I recognize that climbing a mountain is a relatively unimportant thing in the light of eternity, which perspective I like to keep in sight at all times, and I don’t truly pin my hopes on a physical climb or hike up a mountain, as the title of my previous post suggested. So I began thinking of the parallel journey of spiritual maturity that is the responsibility and goal of every believer in Jesus Christ, Whose I am and of Who I am a follower.

Mature faith in Him Who is unseen and Whose Words are both Ancient and yet timeless, is not natural. We humans like to see what we’re trusting in and understand all aspects of the way before us. Well, most of us, at least. There are those who plunge recklessly ahead without considering the way before them, but that is perilous at best. So while my physical goal is to lose weight, recover from Total Knee Surgery, and get fit enough to actually climb (hike) Mt. Pilchuck, my spiritual goal is the spiritual health, fitness and maturity that comes through faith: a spiritual trek up God’s holy mountain – Mt. Zion. To train for this, one needs nutrients and exercise much different than for a physical climb. Training for this journey is just as difficult, but the outcome is infinitely more rewarding than reaching the top of Mt. Pilchuck.

Faith is not for the faint of heart, any more than physical fitness is for one who is lazy, undetermined or unfocused. It’s hard work. And yet, it IS for everyone; in the sense that it is offered to all, as a gift. Not all reach out and take it. There are relatively few who truly pursue it. I used to think it just developed after a profession of belief, but then would wonder why others who came to believe in Christ’s redemption long after I did were so far ahead of me spiritually. But then, I was naive enough to also wonder why others were skinny and I was fat. It boils down to both metabolism and discipline. I was not disciplined in the way I ate, nor did my metabolism reflect that. I also wasn’t regularly practicing spiritual disciplines and my spiritual metabolism reflected that.

Pretty much anything worth having is worth striving for. You know . . . “if you aim for nothing, you will hit it.” So . . . what am I going to strive for? What am I going to be disciplined about? How am I going to reach my goals? Well, for climbing Mt. Pilchuck, I need to do my PT faithfully and recover from this major surgery. Then I need to continue to exercise and push for greater stamina and strength. I also need to eat right, and hopefully lose more weight. I have lost about 60 pounds this past year, and my secret weapon was the mixed blessing of Diabetes. I was diagnosed in late 2014, and told if I was disciplined in how and what I ate or didn’t eat, I could manage the Diabetes without insulin. So far, the discipline of not eating bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, or sugar, and the further discipline of eating lots of vegetables has worked great things in me. But my metabolism is readjusting and now I need to work even harder and be even more disciplined.

Spiritually speaking my goals are not quite as well defined, but God has not left me without a road map or a plan of action. Just as I was lazy about following a prescribed healthy eating plan before, resulting in Diabetes, it is not easy or natural to follow a healthy spiritual plan either. The road map for “spiritual health and mountain climbing” is found in the Bible. Most folks would like to skip the road map and try to figure it out on their own. But that is where they get lost, having taken a wrong path. The Bible says that “a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. (Isaiah 35:8) And of that way it also says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:13) The most important way to stay on God’s prescribed way is to read the Bible – daily, inquiringly, searching for the right way. Staying disciplined to adhere to the instructions found therein.

I looked up training for hiking and found many good points. I will likely go into those in my future posts.   It also makes sense to figure out how to train for the spiritual trek to Mt. Zion, the city of God/godliness. It is my personal, spiritual goal. But, wow, the spiritual disciplines needed! They are not for the lazy or faint of heart. Donald Whitney, in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, goes into detail about many of the spiritual disciplines necessary for Spiritual Growth and Maturity. While not an exhaustive list, the book makes many good points about the disciplines needed for growth and maturity in the Christian faith. Things like Daily Bible reading and studying of what we find there; daily prayer to and worship of God, our Creator and Sustainer of life; serving others; good stewardship of all that God gives us; fasting; and most of all, obedience to the Lordship of Christ in every area of our lives. All of these take discipline. But I want to be that disciplined person who does them and then receives God’s praise at the end of my life and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That is too often true. It is easy to let things slide and either not get INTO the habit of daily disciplines, or get OUT of discipline. So it is wise to plan. Both for physical training, and for spiritual training. I PLAN to eat healthy, walk daily, and do my PT routines. I also PLAN to read my Bible daily, studying the Word of God to find the instructions therein and to strive to OBEY what I find written there. And I PLAN to pray daily, regularly communicating with my TRAINER which is God. He has my good in mind, but if I am not faithful in the disciplines he gives me, I will be no more successful spiritually than I would be physically if I did not obey the routines of Physical Therapy given by my Physical Therapist who also has my good in mind.

A word of caution: my salvation is not wrapped up in whether I am successful with the disciplines. It lies in the truth of Who Jesus is and what He has done. The gift of salvation is given to me freely, not of any works of righteousness that I have done so I may not boast. “According to His mercy He saves us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7) One cannot work one’s way into heaven (our spiritual Zion). It comes by faith alone in Christ alone. One CAN however, become more mature in that faith and obedience through the spiritual disciplines. THAT is my goal. I welcome encouragement and even rebuke should it be needed to help hold me accountable to that goal. And if any want to come with me on this spiritual journey, you are welcome as well. Let us conquer two mountains! Mt. Pilchuck (or whatever your own personal physical goal may be), and “Mt. Zion”, the spiritual goals for a godly life. The Road Map to ‘Zion” is in the Bible. Let’s get started! I plan to read through the Bible this year again, “kiver to kiver” as it is said, from beginning to end, reading twice through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. I have read twice through the whole, in a year, one year; and I have read through it Chronologically a couple different years; and have often read once through the Bible in a year; but this is my favorite way to read it, because the New Testament is full of practical daily living tips, and is in essence the practical road map for our spiritual journey, likewise with the book of Proverbs; and Psalms gives a wonderful picture of God and shows Him to us more plainly, teaching us how to worship Him.

If you would like to try any of these Bible Reading plans, they can be found online various places such as: https://christourcornerstone.com/bible-reading-plans/

Whatever your goals for yourself this year, remember to take them slow, keep on in a steady, relentless pursuit of them, and take along a couple cheerleaders who will applaud your progress!  😀  May God bless your coming year.  Thanks for stopping in and listening to me ramble.  Come again soon.

Yours cordially,

Jorgie

 

 

 

Pinning Hopes on Pilchuck

Baker from Pilchuk

Mt. Baker from Mt. Pilchuck by Kim Schellenberger

Along the entire east ridge of my landscape lies a beautiful string of mountains, ranging from the majestic, gently rounded, snow-capped Mt. Rainier in the south, to equally beautiful Mt. Baker, another snow-capped though somewhat sharper peak, in the north, with a string of lesser, jagged mountain peaks in between. These lower peaks are only snow clad in the winter, but when they are dusted in white they appear to be covered with a fine layer of powdered sugar, as if they are a beautiful confection that one should be able to eat. From the hill overlooking the valley, looking off into the eastern distance, and swinging one’s gaze left and right, one can see this whole range of the North Cascades in one sweeping gaze. It is an awesome sight!

Powder on the Mountains by Tim Abbott

Powder on the Mountain by Tim Abbott

Rainier from Pilchuck

Mt. Rainier from Mt. Pilchuck by Kim Schellenberger

One of the lesser peaks stands out particularly in this scene, especially if one takes the Trestle across the valley, heads north on 9 to the Granite Falls Highway, then east towards the mountains. The peak becomes part of the focal view, smack dab in the middle of the beautiful, tree-lined trek towards the quaint town of Granite Falls. As if you could drive right up it in a straight line. It sits there in all its glory, often framed by sunrise, or moonrise, glowing in the sunsets, or frozen in snow and ice, taking your breath away as you view it on a sunny, cold, frosty day in winter. It rises above the landscape like a beautiful bride or a Queen waiting for her entourage. She sits silently as hundreds of folks flock to her foothills each year to make the ascent to the summit where a tiny lookout sits and sometimes shelters those who decide to spend the night.

Lookout on Pilchuck Photo by Collin Betzold

Lookout on Mt. Pilchuck – Photo by Collin Betzold

I have lived in this area for over 30 years, and have yet to ever hike this beautiful little mountain. But so many folks we know hike it often, and we see pictures taken from the top. I have heard one can see Seattle, nearly 60 miles south, on a clear day. Puget Sound is part of the peak’s famed views too. I have recently begun yearning to hike that trail. I want to see the view in person. What has stopped me? Severely arthritic knees and slowly diminishing menisci in each knee. Until two weeks ago, I had only half a meniscus left in each knee, and my knee joints were surrounded by jagged bone spurs. Summed up – PAIN!! Every step hurts. What makes me think about it now?

Part of the rocky path on Pilchuck

Rocky path on Mt. Pilchuck by Kim Schellenberger

Because, NOW, I have only ONE severely arthritic knee! WooHoo! And that one is usually encased in a bone-sparing, Unloader, support brace with a steel bar that keeps my weight from crunching my lower leg. Two weeks ago, I had Total Knee Replacement of my right knee. Yes, it hurts, and yes, I have months of Physical Therapy to go through, but I am walking on it, and I am determined. I want to climb Mt. Pilchuck!

Heading up Pilchuck

Hiking up Mt. Pilchuck – Photo by Kim Schellenberger

The Washington Trails Association describes the Mt. Pilchuck Trail as a medium trail. Good news of sorts for a hiking-wannabe like me. I have hiked many trails in the past, but would totally still consider myself a beginner. With one knee just recently replaced, and the other knee still needing it pretty badly, I don’t consider myself a candidate for a difficult hike any time soon. But medium?   Sounds possible . . . slowly. . . carefully . . . with prior training and preparation.

by Matthew too

From the lookout, looking towards Puget Sound by Matt Schellenberger

I want to start that training. Now. I want to take a passel of other folks with me who also never thought they could do it. (They are asking ME if they can come!) Because I believe we can if we do it slowly . . . with training . . . with preparation. Next summer is several months away. Much can be accomplished in that time. Let the training begin!   😀   Of course there are those who will tell me it can’t be done or at the very least not that soon. That is OK. I can try and fail, but if I never try I cannot succeed. And if after trying, I fail, I am none the worse for having tried because with the training, I will be stronger and better prepared for the next Total Knee Replacement, which will make me even more ready to try again the following year! I have nothing to lose by trying and a mountain to gain by succeeding! Mt. Pilchuck, here I come!

Mt. Pilchuck Hike

View of the next peak by Kim Schellenberger

Now, to get from walking around the block once (2 weeks post surgery) to being able to hike 6 miles, round trip up and down a mountain . . .  Let the training begin!

by Matthew

Sometimes the journey is rocky. But oh, so worth it! Photo by Matt Schellenberger

Year to Year

Greetings from the infirmary!  Welcome!  It has been a long time since I have posted, and so much has happened, it may be totally crazy to even try to sum up 2015 in a nutshell. But sometimes to make way for a clean slate, i.e.-2016, we must clear the slate from the year before.  The only problem with that is that 2015 has a lot of residual baggage affecting 2016.  Not so unusual, really, when you think about it.  Afterall, who we are affects who we become; where we have been affects where we go . . . yada, yada, yada.

Don’t you hate it when people wax philosophical?  But in this case, it totally fits.  Because the present physical condition of a few members of our family is predetermining, at least in part, what dictates the next few months of 2016.

So I must go back before I can explain what comes ahead.  2015 was a crazy year, fuller than any in our lives to date!  LAST January found me converting my dietary intake to rabbit food in an attempt to manage the Diabetes I had recently been diagnosed with.  Not wishing to go on insulin, and being told by my Doc that if I cut out pasta, potatoes, rice and sugar, I could manage the diabetes without insulin.  Sounded like a good but very difficult option.  I soon found out that every meal needed to really have a minimum of carbs, and those few I consumed needed to be from whole grains, beans, and vegies, with a little bit of fruit thrown in for good measure.  No fruit juices.  No white bread items.

Last fall we also began planning in earnest for our spring trip to the east coast.  I shared some of that trip on an earlier post.  But before we could go on that trip, my 12 year old daughter was found to have a Melanoma on her chest, which gave us all a huge scare.  She was taken into surgery just about 3 weeks before our trip, and thankfully was given the go ahead by her surgeon to make the trip.  We would not have gone without her. Around the same time we discovered her Melanoma, it became apparent that my 14 year old son had an odd, full-body tremor going on that we had never noticed before.  A trip to the Pediatrician gave way to a trip to the Neurologist, who recommended an MRI to see if something serious was happening.  Since it didn’t seem to be progressing, he was also given clearance to go on the trip.

Our trip was a lovely adventure, far removed from the cares of our everyday lives, with the exception of me eating ‘diabetically’ if you can call it that, and my daughter trying to avoid being in the sunshine in the east coast heat wave.  Upon returning, we were launched full steam ahead into wedding planning for my oldest son who proposed to the love of his life and set the date just two months away.  Whew!   Whirlwind with a capital W! Then, as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one year, my oldest daughter played Ultimate Frisbee with some friends, (just two days after my son’s wedding) and tore her ACL joint.  Two months later she opted for surgery to repair it in the hopes she would be able to once again be active in sports in the future. If you’re counting, that’s surgery # 2 for our family in 2015.

Sound like enough adventure for one family for one year?  Shortly after this, my Surgeon asked if I was ready to have my severely arthritic knee joint replaced.  Having felt ready for this for a couple decades, I jumped at the chance.  Three days before Christmas, I became the 3rd member of the family to undergo surgery within the year.  Thinking she was going to be my caregiver, my oldest daughter, (the one who had recently had ACL repair) commenced planning Christmas and taking care of things at home, along with younger siblings.  But her plans were enormously altered when she slipped on the wet front porch, the day after my surgery, crashed down on her weakened right knee and broke her kneecap into three pieces!

So the day before Christmas she had surgery to repair her broken kneecap!  4 surgeries, a cancer scare, a trip across the continent, a wedding, a total change in diet for me, my son learning to live with and ignore a tremor that thankfully seems to just be a part of him, but nothing concerning . . .

And thus we commence 2016! A brand new year, with residual effects from the old year.  Quarterly dermatology checks for my youngest daughter.  An encapsulated leg held stiff for 2 months for my oldest daughter.  Months of PT for me.  A new life for my oldest son with his sweetheart.  And much more.

But through it all, the Lord’s love and care for us is interwoven!  Friends who have prayed, brought meals, offered to clean, offers to give us transportation to our many upcoming appointments while my husband works.  Grace in our moments of pain.  Hope, even in those moments of terror when we discovered the Melanoma. A loving Church family that takes good care of us in our times of need.  Joy in seeing parts of our beautiful country which were new to us.  Fun and laughter as we reminisce about the crazy taxi drivers honking all over NYC, and the incredible awesomeness of the Lincoln Memorial and other monuments around the National Mall.

I believe God always intersperses some good with those things that are hard.  He gives hope in the midst of heartache.  He gives simple little moments of joy or peace even in profound loss.  He does not leave us without hope.  He has a plan for us. And He desires our good.  In this new year, I am profoundly thankful for that hope, and His awesome love.  And it gives me a new perspective which comes from His gospel. He gave us His Gospel – Good News – in the midst of hurt.  It is a gift. One that too many people reject or never see, though He holds it out to all.  It is Jesus!  The One Who took our hurt on Himself, allowing Himself to be crucified and die a horrible death to rise again in newness of life to offer new life to us! The Gospel is the truth that this life is preparation for the next one, and Jesus is the bridge to the right one.  Our life here is short.  The next one is for eternity.

So many of the things that happened to us this year COULD have had much different endings.  Any one of them could have ended very ‘badly’. Badly from our earthly perspective.  The Melanoma could have spread and killed my daughter.  The pulled ACL could have been a head injury.  The broken kneecap could have been a permanent injury resulting in an inability to walk at all.  The tremor could have been caused by a deadly tumor.  Life is for a moment.  Anything could happen to end our lives at any time.  But God . . .

But God planned otherwise.  But God intervened – thankfully.  But God had plans that were different from our own. God desired to re-center our focus. God desires for every person to be saved!  What is important is not what happened to each of us, but what we do with it.  Where we go from here.  What will we do with 2016?  I believe God’s message for this new year, (just as it has been throughout history) is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Who died as the perfect sacrificial Lamb for the sins of all mankind, Who holds out His hand and asks if you will receive the gift of eternal life in exchange for your life sentence of eternal death which are the wages of sin. We are all sinners. But God has a gift.  He tells about it in His Book – the Bible.  This year, I want to be all about the Gospel- in my daily life, my words, my thoughts, my actions.   I am sure I will fail often, but God is also full of mercy and compassion!  He forgives those who truly repent and believe in His Son. He has given me that gift and I want to share it with you.  If you are new to the concept, look up the book of John in the New Testament of the Bible.  Start reading there.  It will change your life if you let it. For eternity.

May the God of heaven draw your heart to Himself and salvation through His Son, Lord of heaven and earth. And may your 2016 be full of learning to be His child.  There is no better Father to be found!

Yours cordially,

Jorgie!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

 

 

The Fondue Pot in the City That Never Sleeps

Melted chocolate anyone!

I don’t know about you, but I love melted chocolate!  Ok, Ok, so I love chocolate in ANY form, melted or not.  Well, I don’t love milk chocolate, but I like it because it is chocolate after all.  Dark chocolate – now that is what I love.  But I also enjoy white chocolate, and mint chocolate, and oh my! – Orange chocolate!!  As in those delectable chocolate oranges that are often found around Christmas time!

And chocolate with coffee!!!  One of my favorite drinks is a home-made sugar-free mocha.  I brew a cup of coffee, add a couple Tablespoons of powdered creamer, a Tablespoon of Hershey’s Baking Cocoa, and a few drops of Stevea (chocolate flavored preferred, though vanilla will do in a pinch.)  It may not tempt your taste-buds, but because I have Diabetes which I try to control by diet alone, this drink satisfies my desire both for something sweet and something chocolatey!  I think it is yummy!

But chocolate is not really what this post is about.  All that is simply to draw attention to the melting pot that is New York City!  I always thought that Seattle was quite a melting pot of people.  And it is, but NYC is even more so.  We saw so many different nationalities of people there, and heard so many different languages being spoken as we walked through the jungle of people on the streets of New York City. Of course, it was the first jumping off place of 22 million immigrants who came through Ellis Island for years.  It also became the landing place of many slaves who traveled north on the Underground Railroad.  And it changed hands a few times as various people groups gave way to others, with the Native Americans first, the Dutch later, and finally the settlers from Britain and other European countries who became Americans.  New York City used to be New Amsterdam back in the 17th century.  One of the many Museums we saw, I came across a sign advertising a restaurant called The Fondue Pot!  I love the name, and it now reminds me of New York City and its melting pot of people.   😀

There are a few neighborhoods left that spotlight some of those original countries represented in the cultural melting pot, such as Little Italy and Chinatown.  The Chinatown area stands out especially.  Most of the signs are in oriental letters, even well-known businesses.  Little Italy is also very lit up with a beautiful lit sign hanging above the street where it begins.

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I have never seen so many people out in the streets of a city in my life.  It makes Seattle seem like a small town.  Well, not really, but smaller and more personal at least. Of course, I remember a time when I was fascinated by the hugeness of Seattle.  I came from a town of 623 people in eastern Washington (whose population I recently looked up along with other Washington towns and cities, because Gracie wanted to know how big Seattle was and the site I came across showed the population of every berg in the state.  My dear little town is now down to only 579 people. [Last night I dreamt they had torn down the tiny Post Office and began delivering mail to individual mail boxes at each resident’s house, and that the Barbershop had been torn down as well.  Of course, it had not been in business there for a few decades, but the house in which it was located had been still there, just up the street from what used to be our house. In my dream, I sat down and cried at the changes taking place in my little town.  Weird dream.])

Ok, that was probably more info than you wanted to know.  Pulling myself back from the bunny trail . . .   So, NYC was enormous to my standards.  Seattle is the largest I have really experienced much, (though I did fly into Mexico City once when I was a teenager, and the plane circled the city before landing that night.  Mexico city is spread out rather than up, or at least it was then.  So I definitely wondered what I had gotten myself into, but it was nothing compared to NYC.)  And now that I am used to Seattle, it seems pretty mild, with ‘normal’ traffic. But then, Seattle is a measly 610,000 people approximately, and most people drive their own cars and don’t rely on taxis.  New York City is nearly 6 1/2 million people!!  (And we only saw a small part of it – mainly Upper and Lower Manhattan!  We barely went into the outskirts of Harlem and the Bronx, our Big Bus Tour took us across the bridge to Brooklyn, but immediately turned around to head back into Manhattan, having taken us across just so we could see the Manhattan city sights at night from the perspective of the bridge, and we never got into Queens at all.)

See how huge NYC is?

See how huge NYC is?

I have heard the term, ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ but had never really thought about it before until we were in New York City for a Night Tour on their Big Bus Tours.  The term seemed to really apply.  The city is incredibly alive even at night (though of course we can’t vouch for the wee hours of the night, as we headed back to our lodging before 11 o’clock at night).  Huge billboards light up the city streets.  The billboard displays are massive, changing advertisements, and cover the sides of the buildings, especially in Times Square!  Sometimes there are multiple billboards rising from a single area of street, one over another. Then of course there are the neon lights of the buildings announcing each one’s name and business.  Not to mention the street lights at every corner and lining the streets.  And the sidewalks seemed just as crowded at night as they were during the day.

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Our Big Bus Tour started at M & M World in Times Square.  We sat up in the open top of the double-decker bus.  The weather for the Night Tour was perfect.  It had been really hot that day, and had cooled down enough to be comfortable, but not cold.

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We never found the time to go in M & M World, but it looks like it would have been a fun place to go in.  The upper floor is surrounded by floor to ceiling glass and displays inside are all lit up.  They are open til midnight and have tons of different flavors of M & M’s that you can evidently buy by the pound for an equal ton of money.  We didn’t succumb, mainly because we didn’t find the time.

From M & M World, we continued straight towards the Times Square Ball that drops each New Year’s Eve.  The whole tower was lit with billboards, as were both sides of the street!

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Movies being played at the various theaters were displayed by enormous lit billboards.

Movies being played at the various theaters were displayed by enormous lit billboards.

See what I mean by ENORMOUS?

See what I mean by ENORMOUS?

Even NBC had a massive lit display of their news channel on the corner of their building!  Sometimes it would have a camera panning the crowd and displayed this on the billboard!

Even NBC had a massive lit display of their news channel on the corner of their building! Sometimes it would have a camera panning the crowd and displayed this on the billboard!

At the tops of many of the more famous buildings, there are lights or even changing light displays that outline the city scape even in the dark.  It is truly an incredible city.  So different from anything my family and I were used to.  The Empire State Building was particularly pretty at night.  The top is all lit up and the lights change, giving it a rippling effect at times or as if it is pulsing to music.  The color displays are changed periodically to reflect holidays or special occasions.

The top of the Empire State Building lit up at night

The top of the Empire State Building lit up at night

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The clock tower on the MET Life Office Building - all lit up at night

The clock tower on the MET Life Office Building – all lit up at night

No clue what this building is, but it is also lit up at night.

No clue what this building is, but it is also lit up at night.

Kimmy got this great shot from the middle of an intersection.

Kimmy got this great shot from the middle of an intersection.

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The Chrysler Building by night

The Chrysler Building by night

While the tops of the buildings were beautiful, and the Tour Guide kept reminding us to look up, it was the street level and first few stories of the the buildings that riveted our attention most of the time.  New York City is beautiful at night.

Looking back across at Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge

Looking back across at Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge

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The traffic at night was still crazy!  And the taxi drivers were still honking!

The traffic at night was still crazy! And the taxi drivers were still honking!

In some areas of the city, there were so many lights and lit up signs that the whole sides of buildings were lit up like it was daytime.

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Other times the buildings had specific parts they wanted to highlight to draw attention to themselves.

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The lights on this one kept changing to different colors.

The lights on this one kept changing to different colors.

This was a real boat hanging up on the side of a building.

This was a real boat hanging up on the side of a building.

The bus went on a route through Upper and Lower Manhattan, and then across the Manhattan Bridge so we could look back and see the cityscape, and look across to the Brooklyn Bridge and even see the Statue of Liberty all lit up, though she was far enough away that pictures of her didn’t show much.  She was far more visible to the naked eye than in cameras. A night time cruise would have been fun.

Looking back across at Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge

Looking back across at Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

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I think this is the zoomed in pic that shows the Statue, but it is hard to see her.

I think this is the zoomed in pic that shows the Statue, but it is hard to see her.

If you look at the above photo, about a third of the way from the right,you can see a slightly taller thin object with a glow at the top.  I think that is the Lady and her torch.  Even I can barely tell.  But it was fun to see it lit up at night, even if only from a distance.  🙂

After our short tour of Brooklyn (about 5 minutes after we got across the bridge, it turned around and went back) we got a taste of Lower Manhattan, then headed back towards M & M World and Times Square.

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

Little Italy - the sign changes color.

Little Italy – the sign changes color.

IMG_9032The traffic at night was still crazy!  And the taxi drivers were still honking!!

IMG_9138Even the McDonalds seemed fancy!

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All too soon, it was time for the Night Tour to end and we headed back to Jersey City by way of the PATH train to rest up for another day of exploring the Big Apple.  The first day we were there, there were news flashes displayed on tiny reader boards in the PATH train stations and subways warning about ‘the Hammer Man’ who was loose and attacking people in the subways, with a hammer. It didn’t make us feel terribly comfortable, but there was nothing to do but stay together and keep an eye on each other.  We never actually felt particularly unsafe and always stayed together in a group, but I was glad to find out the next day that they had caught and shot ‘the Hammer Man’.

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Thanks for coming with us on the Night tour.  If you ever have a chance to go and do it yourself, I highly recommend it.  It was one of our favorite parts of the trip!  And the City That Never Sleeps is truly beautiful at night.  It was an exciting part of our itinerary and well worth the money.  The guide was informative and funny, and the sights were wonderful!

And you could indulge in a little bit of M & M snacking at the end.  😀

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See you soon for more exciting times in New York City!

Yours cordially,

Jorgie  😀

New York City, Here We Come!

Do you love history?

 I do!

I didn’t used to, back when it was required to learn it in school.  I hated having to learn dates of events, which I always felt were unimportant and irrelevant in the overall scheme of things.  A few dates maybe, but really, it is the event itself and the place that it happened that really stands out in my mind and should be the focus of our remembrances.

The Statue of Liberty is one such place.  It stands out in history as a place of great significance.  An incredible amount of history took place on the entire east coast as this nation was being birthed and grew into what it is today.  And Lady Liberty was the first sight of many immigrants coming to this land of freedom.  People had come from all over Europe for a plethora of reasons, and the sight of this grand lady holding her torch up high, must have lit the imaginations and hopes and dreams of thousands of people as they emerged from weeks of being cooped up in filthy conditions aboard ship and received the fresh air of a new life.

First glimpse of the Lady

First glimpse of the Lady

We began the day with the hugest thing on my personal bucket list- Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty!  Wow!  Wow doesn’t even begin to describe it in fact!

Our first glimpse of Lady Liberty was from the New Jersey Side.  It wasn’t a great view, but it was still incredibly exciting!  I have heard of the Statue of Liberty since I was a very little child, and she has been a prominent part of our nation’s history, receiving lots of attention in history books.  I have wanted to see it all my life!  I guess for folks who live in New Jersey and New York, it is a common enough sight, and not a big deal, but for this westerner, it was the highlight of my trip!  Our host, who lives in Jersey city seemed to know less about her than we did, not even realizing that the Statue and the Immigration Building were on two little islands off the New Jersey Coast.  We took a ferry from Liberty State Park and headed first to Ellis Island.

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I was too excited about going to see the Statue and Ellis Island to even think yet about touching the Atlantic Ocean, but it soon became evident that the water was not accessible.  You can call me crazy if you want, but touching the water of the ocean on the other side of the continent from me was on my bucket list.  🙂  I have waded, swam, and gone agate hunting in the Pacific Ocean all my life, and live in a town on the edge of Puget Sound in Washington.  But the thought of this other ocean some 2000+ miles away that I never thought I would ever even see, was intriguing to me, and I really wanted to touch it.  OK, so I really wanted to bring some home.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that on the plane and pictured the folks at the airport pulling me aside suspecting me to be a terrorist with some explosive liquid.  But I was hoping to pull it off anyway.  Someone from home had suggested using a small, empty shampoo bottle or something similar, and putting a bit of sand and shells in and then filling it with Atlantic Ocean water!  What a great idea!  But New Yorkers don’t seem to think it is a great idea, because they put their city up above the water by about 6 feet everywhere and then fenced it in and to get to the water, you had to risk falling in and not being able to climb back out.

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Fences around the water!  Who’d a thunk?!  Sigh . . . .  No Atlantic Ocean keepsake for me unless we could manage to go across to Brooklyn and down to one of the beaches.  Sadly, we did not have time.  Just 3 days to see it all and most of the first day was spent at Ellis Island and the Statue.  for all you New Yorkers and New Jerseyers, come to Washington.  We have beaches and you can reach the water!  Though of course you are probably not so silly as me, wanting to touch a different ocean than your own or collect some and take it home.

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Ellis Island, home of the most prominent Immigration Center in America.  No, not everyone who immigrated back then came through there, but there were certainly a lot that did.  The buildings are beautiful and old.  The island houses the main building, plus many other large buildings, which included a hospital, infirmaries, and barracks-like buildings which became the home of many folks waiting for their people to come for them, or waiting for the Immigration Court to allow them entry.  Not everyone who came, was allowed in.  Some were turned away due to illness, or other characteristic that deemed them to be a burden to American Society.  If they did not have sponsors in America, they might also not have been allowed in.  If they were cross-eyed, they might not have been allowed in.  America was pretty picky back then, and examined and cross examined immigrants to make sure they were suitable for entry.  But the vast majority were allowed entry and became the melting pot that makes our nation so interesting.

The hospital and infirmaries

The hospital and infirmaries

Even Ellis Island sat 6 feet or so above the water, with a sheer rock wall drop keeping folks from dipping their toes in the water.

Even Ellis Island sat 6 feet or so above the water, with a sheer rock wall drop keeping folks from dipping their toes in the water.

I suppose there were folks who got desperate to get into America that tried swimming the distance from Ellis Island to New Jersey.  Some probably made it, but it couldn’t have been easy.  for the most part, it was a long wait for those who were sick or whose sponsors didn’t come right away.  But they were well fed, given a place to sleep, and cared for in the infirmaries til they were either healthier enough to enter, or were determined to be a burden and were sent back.  Families were sometimes separated in this way, some being allowed to enter, others being sent back.

The Immigration Center - It was a really beautiful building.

The Immigration Center – It was a really beautiful building.

Inside the Ellis Island Immigration Center, there is now a Museum, commemorating different time periods in American History.  We spent 3 1/2 hours at the Ellis Island Museum, and could easily have spent several hours more there.  It was interesting, sad, and exciting all at the same time. The lower floor has some history of the original natives before the settlers, the coming of the settlers, and the beginnings of this nation.  It also tells how immigrants from so many nations brought rich cultural and language changes to America, melting together to form a stronger, more diverse nation that incorporates so many people groups.

There is the Word Tree, showing hundreds of words used in America today that came from other nations.

There is the Word Tree, showing hundreds of words used in America today that came from other nations.

Signs telling how many parts of our geography got their names.

Signs telling how many parts of our geography got their names.

Signs telling how names have changed from their original names.

Signs telling how names have changed from their original names.

There were pictures showing the building of now-famous landmarks.

There were pictures showing the building of now-famous landmarks.

Music from many nations came together in new forms in America.

Music from many nations came together in new forms in America.

Slaves also brought music with them and it became integrated over time.

Slaves also brought music with them and it became integrated over time.

I found it especially fascinating to see how our nation became what it is today BECAUSE of the immigrants from around the world.  We truly are a melting pot of many nations, cultures and languages.  Immigrants worked hard to make a new life in America, but brought so much of their own culture, customs and languages to America and these became an integral part of who we are today.  America grew from the backbone brought by Immigrants.  It was the sweat of many nations that formed it and built it.  We can all be proud to call it our own, because our ancestors built it.  Reading the many stories and seeing the pictures of the many immigrants and their difficult lives, made me truly proud to be an American.  The diversity of America is because of people from all over the world who have come to call America home.

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The second floor of the Immigration Building was given to the stories, artifacts and pictures of immigrants who came through there.  It was fascinating and sad all at once.  If you get a chance to go, I highly recommend it, but take a lunch and if you go in the late spring or summer, take a hand-held fan!  You will need it!  There were a lot of sad stories, but also stories of victory.  There were pictures of children who came through there all those years ago, and recordings of voices (whether real or dramatized, I don’t know) of people who either worked there then, or went through there as an immigrant.  It took us hours to go through the Museum and it was very, very hot in there, especially the higher you got in the building.  I think it was 90 outside that day, and there was no air conditioning inside the building.  By the time I got up to the 3rd floor, which was mostly art, I was hot, hungry (we had not remembered or planned ahead enough to take lunches), and my feet and knees were in plenty of pain.  I opted for fresh air, skipped the art, and headed down to the benches outside to wait for my family.  I just sat there and drank in the sigh of Lady Liberty.  We would be heading there soon.  We had not taken lunches with us, and had only eaten a light breakfast, so between the heat and the hunger, it finally drove all of us out and back twards the ferry to head on to Liberty Island. And that was another WOW!  For me it was a tear-jerker. It made me want to cry every time I looked up at her. Not only because it has been on my bucket list since I was a wee person and first heard about it, (a fifty + year old bucket list), but also because there is so much history there. So many of my generation’s grandparents and great grandparents came through there, and it has excited me and awed me for my whole life. And she was beautiful!

As seen from Ellis Island

As seen from Ellis Island

When we boarded the ferry for Liberty Island, we immediately headed for the hot dog stand.  We were famished!  Fortified with a little food in our bellies, we began to revive and get really excited as the Statue came closer and closer.

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The ferry docked on her right side and we disembarked with this view, her torch shining in the sun.  We walked around the back side of her and did a complete circuit, so we got a view of her from all angles.  We had not gotten tickets to go up in the pedestal or the crown, (if you want to do that when you visit, you have to get the tickets at least 2 months in advance), so we walked around the base and took pictures of her all the way around.

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But the most magnificent views were from the front of course.  Unfortunately, the sun was just over her head and there was a glare on quite a few of them that just don’t do her justice.

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July 4th, 1776

July 4th, 1776

I could have stared at the Statue for hours, she was that pretty, and that historically significant!  Who doesn’t have some grand parent or great grandparent, or other relative that came through there?  Seems like most of us have heard stories of it all our lives.  It was a very emotional visit for me, and I was sad to leave.

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Come back again soon.  We will be going on the Big Bus Night tour of New York City!  It is truly the city that never sleeps! It was a whole new world for us and it was very exciting to be in this huge city across the nation from our little berg.  😀

See you soon!

Yours cordially,

Jorgie  😀

Lady in Blue

A Wee Bit More About Hershey Gardens

In a recent post, called Come Along With Me, I mentioned an elderly lady dressed in turquoise (or aqua if you prefer) who was sitting on a lovely butterfly-shaped bench that was much the same color.  I couldn’t find it when I posted, but my daughter came across it last night.  One CAN have too many electronics, it seems.  Evidently I had taken the picture on my iPad, rather than my camera, that day.  I usually didn’t even carry it with me, but I must have thought it was easier to get to because there it is on the iPad.  So I shall share it with you afterall.  🙂

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We thought we would be able to take lots of pictures of blooming flowers,k but we evidently were a bit too late in the season, or else too early depending on the type of flower.  Tulips were about the only thing blooming.

Some of the tulips at Hershey Gardens

Some of the tulips at Hershey Gardens

There actually weren't a lot of flowers in bloom just then.  But my dress seemed to be in full bloom.  :)

There actually weren’t a lot of flowers in bloom just then. But my dress seemed to be in full bloom. 🙂

My favorite shot from the day was the lady in blue on the bench! She was a lovely little lady, soon to turn 90, who was happy to chat for awhile.  She was surprised we had come all the way from the Seattle area, shared a bit about herself and wished us a happy visit.  I love talking to elderly people!  They add so much to our lives, and have so much to share.  They have lived through so much history and there’s a lot of wisdom in those snowy heads.  Next time you see an elderly person, stop and chat awhile.  I’m sure they will appreciate it, and you will too.

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Many blessings on your day.  Thanks for stopping in.

Yours cordially,

Jorgie  😀

“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”   Leviticus 19:32 (NIV)

Going . . . Going . . . Gone – Further East

Welcome back! Come with us as we continue our trip towards New York!
It’s heating up, but we’ve got the air conditioning on.  Sit back and enjoy.  😀
Leaving Gettysburg in the mid-afternoon, we headed further east, past Lancaster to a little town called East Earl,  where we were to meet up with our PA friends for dinner at the most enormous buffet we have ever seen – Shady Maple Smorgasbord.  This is a Mennonite-owned buffet of gargantuan proportions, at least in my humble experience.  They serve, according to their website, “Authentically PA Dutch Cooking” from the 200 feet of double-sided food-laden tables.  Below this enormous Buffet is the Shady Maple gift Shop, 30,000 square feet full of beautiful gift selections, including locally made quilts and hand made items along side the usual features of home decor, lawn and garden items, specialty glass gifts, etc.  A person could get lost in the shopping bliss and not emerge for a week, and probably still not see it all.  😀   Seriously, you need to explore this place, and if you are ever in the Lancaster area, go eat there.  You can shop online from the Gift Store, but the eating experience is the best!  My favorite was the deep fat fried pickles!  Here is a link so you can see for yourself: http://www.shady-maple.com/
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Shady Maple employs 800 workers throughout their establishments! The Buffet served over 11,000 people on the Saturday before Mother’s Day!!  You KNOW that if an establishment serves that many people it must be GOOD EATING!  You gotta try this place!  Seriously, just go!
And while you are there, don’t forget to try the fried pickles – they are delicious!  Delicious!  Try them!  🙂
This was the foyer inside Shady Maple Smorgasbord!  It was like an enormous living room, complete with couches and art work.

This was the foyer inside Shady Maple Smorgasbord! It was like an enormous living room, complete with couches and art work.

Saying goodbye to our friends, we got back into our lovely air conditioned rental car and with full bellies, continued east to Jersey City in anticipation of our New York visit! Now, we had heard that driving is crazy in the east, and thankfully we had elected my oldest son to be the driver for the whole trip. (It was cheaper to have only one designated driver anyway.  It would have cost an additional $15 per day to allow anyone else to drive the vehicle.)  He was the only one of us that had much experience driving in rush hour traffic in the Seattle/Bellevue area, so it seemed fitting to have him do the driving in the crazy eastern traffic.  We were soon to find out how true it was.  People in New Jersey, who are not nearly such crazy drivers as NYC drivers were a good introduction for us.  They were bumper to bumper going into Jersey City, and folks don’t seem to feel a need to actually have space between cars in order to wedge themselves into your lane.  Changing lanes in the east is a bit like riding a roller coaster for thrills.  My son learned that if people want over, they just start shoving their way in and hope the person slightly behind them lets them, or perhaps I should say, they expect them to let them in.  This applies to highways too, where the traffic is going 50 or 60 miles an hour.  I decided it was better to close my eyes and pray rather than keep gasping in fright, which seemed to distract our driver more than the traffic did.
We were thankful for our GPS and another son who was our designated travel guide and who was manning the GPS on his smart phone.  I do wish it would have spoken up about turns a wee bit sooner, because we would come upon the turns and be told at the last minute that we were suposed to ‘turn right’ or ‘take such and such exit’ and all of a sudden there it would be and we weren’t in the correct lane and my son would try valiantly to swerve over to the exit without hitting anyone.  Occasionally it just didn’t work and it would have to re-direct us.  But over all, we got where we wanted to be thanks to these two sons and the voice on the GPS.  And so we arrived at our destination safe and sound, though slightly rattled, and ready for a good night’s sleep after a long day.  It was about 10 PM and our host came walking up, shortly after we got there.  He owns several Airbnb’s in the Jersey City area, and was a great host. the one we stayed in was a three story home, built wall-to-wall with other homes and buildings.  I was fascinated by these.  They are not common in the Pacific Northwest, but they are everywhere in the east. I was amazed at the lack of yards.  I guess folks here don’t get an itch to plant a garden, the way I do each spring.
New Jersey Townhouses, or perhaps they are called Brownstones.

New Jersey Townhouses, or perhaps they are called Brownstones.

Folks, it is far cheaper and a lot less crazy to stay across the Hudson River from New York.  I would like to encourage you to check out Airbnb when you are checking out lodging.  It is generally much less expensive than hotels, and you get the comforts of home.  Airbnb is essentially a site that you join for free and have access to lodging in locations all over the world with folks who rent out their homes or rooms in their homes, for travelers.  You can opt for an entire home, or simply a room.  Beds, complete with bedding are provided, and there are towels and washcloths in the bathroom, just like a hotel.  If you rent an entire home, you have the use of the kitchen to make your own meals, thus saving money over eating out for every meal.  Some Airbnb sites will have food available for your breakfasts, though that is not always the case, in spite of the fact that bnb is used in the name, but you are already saving a ton of money so shopping for your meal items at a grocery store nearby is convenient and money-saving, or there are usually restaurants nearby as well if you should so choose.  The host we rented from in Jersey City was very nice and extremely helpful.  He met us there at the apartment, even though it was 10 o’clock at night, and showed us around, answered questions, pointed out where things were, left instructions for contacting him on the fridge, as well as the wifi code, and info about nearby shopping, eating and laundry facilities.  He encouraged us to use him as a virtual tour guide if we had questions or got lost during our stay and told us we could call him any time.  The home was quiet and secure, and featured two bedrooms with three beds altogether, plus a day bed in the kitchen and a couch for our seventh person to sleep on in the living room.  There was an iron and ironing board, all the towels and washcloths we needed, and even little unexpected amenities like shampoo, soap, TP and personal items in the bathroom  in case guests forgot their own, and all the dishes and pots and pans we might need in the kitchen, plus dishtowels and cloths for washing and drying our dishes.  All he required of us was to not remove anything from the apartment, and to leave it as clean as we found it.  Airbnb is the way to go! Check it out: https://www.airbnb.com/
So, get a good night’s sleep and get ready for another day of excitement.  Thanks for coming along. I hope you come back and visit again, because our next stop is New York City, the city that never sleeps!  If you have never been there, you are in for a treat!  And if you have, you will have fun being reminded of those memories.  NYC is an exciting place and was fully our favorite part of the whole trip!  See you soon.
Yours cordially,
Jorgie  😀