Heritage

Since my post yesterday, I’ve been thinking. I wonder if some will read my last piece and say to themselves, “I wish I had a heritage like that.”

First of all, my parents are not perfect. I know it’s a given, but it still needs to be said.

Secondly, if you look back through my longer heritage, you will see that I come from a long line of rough characters. On my dad’s side, we are a bunch of Pacific Northwest rednecks. My great-great-great-great Grandpa Joseph was a French-Canadian fur-trapper who was employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. He found himself a beautiful Indian maiden at the Spokane House trading post and married her. She was of great help to him and in their early years, they lived a largely native lifestyle. It’s reported that when one of their children was sent to an Indian school, he did not know how to use a utensil to eat. He used his hands. Furthermore, my Grandpa Joseph was one of the men who voted against the Oregon charter for Statehood at the Champoeg Meetings. It might be a stretch but I figure he was probably pretty anti-establishment and wanted to keep the west wild, or at the very least, unsettled. He was voted down, and the great migration to the West began to take place. The Oregon Trail was born.

Grandpa Joseph’s son Augustin, or “Long Gus”, is my great-great-great Grandpa. He is said to have been a scout during the Yakima and Cayuse Indian Wars, but we’re not sure on which side he fought. We’ve heard a story that he was in a well-known scuffle over a gun, a horse, and a canoe. And another story that he heroically rescued stranded immigrants on the Applegate Pass in the Cascade Mountains. But the best part of his story, according to my 14-year-old son, is that Grandpa Augustin was struck by lightening near the Dalles, Oregon and died at age 66.

On my mom’s side, they were a little less rough around the edges, but still have their Wild West stories. They were part of the migration from Missouri to Oregon in the 1850s. They settled and farmed the rich soil of the Willamette Valley. My mom and dad get great laughs out of the fact that it is very likely that her side kicked his side out of the Willamette Valley. Sadly, it may have been because of discrimination against my dad’s “half-breeds” heritage. Or equally possible, Grandpa Joseph may have just been very uncomfortable with the increasing traffic in western Oregon. Soon after the settlers came, he moved his half-breed family to the wilds of eastern Oregon.

When my own Dad was in middle school, his parents became Christians. My grandparents were both children of alcoholics. My grandparents were looking for some sense of order in their lives. Building their family the right way post WWII was important to them. My dad says it was quite a radical change when his parents turned their lives around together.

I tell you this because I want to point out that I am two generations removed from that change in my grandparents. I am grateful for my heritage. I believe it highlights the importance of the decisions that we each make for the next generation. By the power of Jesus in their lives, I’ve watched my parents work through a lot of stuff that came down from their parents. My husband Ray’s parents too have a story of God’s redemption in their lives and heritage. Because of their faithfulness, they have gifted us with a healthier heritage.

Returning to the original question: Are you saying to yourself, “I wish I had a heritage like that?” START NOW. Give your children a healthier heritage than you had.

Ray and I not perfect. Ha! Anyone who knows us is very aware of that fact. Our kids will still have to work through stuff that we pass down to them. But we’re starting here. You and I can put our flags in the ground and claim the land, like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in the movie Far and Away. Stake your flag and start here, no matter where you are.

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The Secret of a Full Life (Or My Parents Are Too Old To Move To Wyoming)

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About ten years ago, when they were in their mid-fifies, my parents made a pretty drastic life-change. They moved from Southwest Washington to Central Oregon. My mom basically dragged my dad out of pastoral ministry. But that’s a story for another day. And it’s a good story, though it was painful at the time.

More recently, now aged “mid-sixties”, my parents made another pretty drastic life-change. In a matter of 6 months, they made an offer on a home with 8 acres in Wyoming, sold their home in Sunriver, Oregon, packed up all their belongings and moved. I was shocked.

Sunriver has been a great vacation place for our family. We’ve made crazy memories, and so cheaply since my parents were there. Leaving the ministry didn’t mean that my parents retired because they still needed to work. But they did different ministry in Oregon. My mom worked at Red Cross and with the horses at Sunriver Stables and on the ski patrol at Mt. Bachelor (yes, she is a stud muffin, also a story for another day). My dad was employed by Sunriver Resort and supervised a maintenance crew. And every day in a myriad of Ponderosa Pine forests, he walked Annie-dawg, their beloved (spoiled?) St. Bernard. Because of my parent’s various connections around Sunriver, our family had unfettered, inexpensive access to all the various vacationy-kinds of activities.

So Wyoming?! What the heck?!

My parents have always loved Wyoming. As they road-tripped through it this past Spring, they felt pulled there in a new way. When they happened across an area south of Yellowstone and east of Jackson Hole, something in their spirits rose anew. Who knows what is ahead for them there, but the move has taken place with relative ease and it feels right to them. They’ve been there for a little over a month now, and they are giddy like newlyweds.

I keep thinking: Can 65-year-olds do something so drastic? Isn’t this a little irresponsible somehow?

And I keep hearing in reply: How amazing to have such risk-takers for my model! They’ve got a lot of life left. How great that they are living it!

On our sisters/mom-trip to the Oregon Coast last week, my mom told me something so profound that I made her repeat it so that I could write it down.

She said, “Shawna, the secret to a full life is how you transition. Watch for those times in your life. You need risk. Don’t let fear or habit or money dictate your choices.”

She went on to explain that life is like an Aspen tree that has to send out its shoots to keep living. If it doesn’t, it dies. Change is inevitable. It happens all of the time.

Some changes are pretty major–a new baby, an empty nest, another job, or retirement. Some changes are incredibly painful–a diagnosis, divorce, the death of someone you love deeply. Some changes are just a great part of life–your baby is learning to walk, you are buying your first house, or your teenager is learning to drive a car(!).

I have a couple of Aspens in my backyard, and I think I may have damaged them last summer. Those pesky shoots were growing like crazy. They were taking over what I wanted to be my little flower garden. In my ignorance, I cut them all back. The big, pretty, healthy Aspen trees didn’t flourish this year. In fact, they had a bunch of branches that failed to produce leaves. I worried all summer that I may have damaged the trees for good. So Mom’s analogy spoke to me. How often have I cut back God’s healthy shoots in my life because I have different plans?

After we had discussed it for a while, my mom added, “If you don’t practice hearing God’s voice, you can forget transitions. You have to be asking God to speak, slowing down to listen, reading your Bible, and staying open to following the Holy Spirit when you feel the tug on your heart.”

My mom and dad have had some pretty painful times of transition in their marriage and lives. If you sat down with them, they could tell you all about it. But through it all, I’ve watched them practice hearing God’s voice. I’m proud of them in a way only a daughter can be. I’m grateful that they are risking now. I’m glad they are still living their dreams. I’m thankful they’re my model.

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Walking the property

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Annie-dawg by their fireplace

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Out my Mom’s kitchen window

All photos in this story should be credited to my lovely and talented sister, Sharleen Lucas, the only one of us who actually helped my parents move.

Sisters and Mama Trip to the Oregon Coast

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Baby sister Lindsay had her 10-year class reunion last weekend. She flew from her home in Kansas City to our hometown Longview. Then she booked three days at the Oregon Coast and invited us all to join her if we could. We could! Mom came from Wyoming. Sister Shar came from Central Oregon. And I came from Eastern Washington.

It’s a pretty special thing when you can connect and reminisce and leave your responsibilities behind. We giggled and fought and shared (stole?) our cosmetics, just like old times.

One of my favorite giggle moments came while we were cuddled up in our hotel beds and watching the Miss America pageant. We laughed through the whole talent segment. Maybe you saw it too. Some producer had the brilliant idea to flash insignificant informational “fun facts” about each contestant while she was performing. They chose the most ridiculous facts! One beautiful contestant sang the emotional song about Jerusalem, “Via Delarosa”. But at random points throughout the touching song, across the screen flashed, “Loves giraffes” and 30 seconds later, “Has 130 pairs of shoes”. If you didn’t see it, check this out: http://www.eonline.com/news/579297/beauty-queen-kira-kazantsev-loves-reading-jane-austin-and-10-more-absurd-facts-from-miss-america-pageant
I only could’ve enjoyed that moment like I did with my sisters and mom. It wouldn’t have been the same at home with my boys.

Another giggle moment came in the middle of night two when my sister Shar’s iPad alarm mysteriously came alive on its speaker base and abruptly woke us. Imagine a lively classical song, playing at high volume–dun-dun-dun, DUN, DUN!!! We all shot up in bed and had a quick freak-out session. ┬áLindsay has the best laugh ever, so she made me laugh harder. We giggled on and off for the next 30 minutes as we tried to go back to sleep.

Three highlights that will remain my best memories:

1) Our hike:
We walked through the old growth, lush forest from Ecola State Park to Indian Beach http://alltrails.com/trail/us/oregon/ecola-state-park-to-indian-beach
It was clear and sunny when we set out, and it stayed that way for the hike there. The ocean views were vast. The forest was dry and dappled with light . When we arrived at Indian Beach, a misty fog was creeping its fingers over the water and inland. We sat on the beach and people-watched as the fog enveloped the beach. On our return hike, the forest had changed itself, clothed by damp and dark, probably into its more comfortable, natural coastal garment.

IMG_8764 photo credit: Sharleen Lucas

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IMG_8768 Photo Credit: Sharleen Lucas

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2) Our fire on the beach:
Mom collected wood and built a masterful campfire while we bossed her around and told her what to do. Most thoughtful of all the sisters, Shar surprised us with a birthday party for Lindsay and I. She created a menu of foil-roasted onions and red peppers (cooked to perfection by Lindsay), wrapped inside of crescent roll wraps and twisted around our roasted sausages (cooked to perfection by me). Completed with cake and a little sand mixed-in. We sang old worship and Disney songs and stayed out until it was dark and cold.

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3) Watching the surfers at high tide:
We walked down to the end of Seaside beach to what the locals call “the Cove”. It was beautiful weather and the surfers were out in force. I think we counted 25 of them. We sat on the rocks near them and watched for a long time. Surfing is an interesting dance of peace and power. For long, quiet moments, the surfers sit atop their boards and watch the waves. But when the best waves come, the surfers jockey for place and then get lucky if the wave violently breaks and gifts them with a turbulent ride. I most enjoyed watching the white haired, most obvious oldest surfer out there. He was stiffer than the young ones, but he got the most out of the waves that came to him. He had a knack for sensing where the best waves would break and give. For that, he enjoyed a higher number of good rides than the younger guys did.

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And one last little treat: Lindsay saw this sign while we were shopping in Cannon Beach and said, “If you’re classy, the least you can do is spell Klassy correctly.”

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Yet I Shall Speak of His Righteousness

Psalm 35:28
My tongue will speak of your righteousness
and of your praises all day long.

The world has blown up this summer, in case you haven’t noticed. Sure, crazy stuff has been happening for centuries. But this much? At this pace? Something is going on.

I love debates and conflicts. It’s sick, I know. I enjoy a little controversy, a little discussion. Politics are a riot.

But I’ve heard a still, small voice of late. It whispers, “Don’t get all caught up in this. Don’t become distracted by this.”

I don’t believe this to mean that I must completely ignore the news. I am, however, utterly convinced that I must, must temper and balance the news with much time spent listening to and reading God’s words. How do I reconcile the bad news? I seek out the One my heart loves. And I get His bigger perspective of the world.

When I allow myself to become distracted by news headlines, it becomes quite easy to forget what I so strongly believe, “greater is He who is within (me) than he that is in the world.”

And so I shall speak of His righteousness.