Category Archives: Faith

Discussion and examples of what it looks lke to “Walk by faith and not by sight” and “the just shall live by faith”

Thanksgiving Thoughts From Maison Steinbuchel

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. – Johnny Carson

The day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year.  This true of all modes of transportation, but none more filled with tension than air travel.  During my years in air traffic I worked many of these days.  From the inside, it was serious business.  I arrived to take my position at the radar in the Los Angeles Center with coffee at hand, my mind focused and with a bit of apprehension for the task at hand.  It was fun and awesome at the same time.

Those days were also days of honor, where I could serve the travelers of this nation, even the world, so they could get home to be with family and loved ones.  I was aware of what was at stake:

  • hugs and tears of welcome
  • reminiscence with family and friends
  • reminders of those no longer with us
  • grandparents seeing grandchildren, perhaps for the first time
  •  And even some reluctant endurance of bad memories

Whatever awaited at the end of each passenger’s voyage, we did our best (really) to not add to the stress of the travel.

Sending Thanksgiving Peace

Today, I have to admit, I don’t miss the tension and stress.  Yet, neither do I regret having served in this way.  As I said, it was and honor.

The video above is sent to provide you a moment of peace, respite or even escape, if needed.   The Music is from David Cullen – not the one I am married to.

So from Maison Steinbuchel we sent our warmest prayers for a day filled with peace, good food, and fellowship, wherever you may be.  For those serving our country in the military,  public safety, air traffic or any other civil service, we send our thanks.  thanksgiving

If you are serving in some way away from friends and family, please let me know in the comments below.  I want to thank you personally.   If not, where will you spend your Thanksgiving this year?

Happy And Blessed Thanksgiving – Practicing Gratitude

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”  ― Epicurus

gratitudeI am writing this several weeks before it will post.  It has been a gloomy few days and even though I hate to admit it, my grumpy level goes up when the sun hides.  This tends to press my gratitude level down.  I would not do well in Alaska in winter.

So I decided to go ahead and do a Thanksgiving post.  Thanksgiving was our extended maternal family’s reunion gathering as a child.  We usually went to the farm where all the traditional comfort food converged from a eight county area onto one table.  If there were strained relationships they were set aside for the day as far as I could tell.

This breaking of bread among family served us well.  I only remember the laughter, the stories (that got bigger each year) and the fellowship.  It was expressed gratitude that we had family.  I know it was far from perfect, but even in that, I learned gratitude in the face of the imperfect.  I learned that one does not depend on the other.

Choosing Gratitude

So today I am revving up my gratitude meter.  This year, we are gathering the extended family at my aunt and uncle’s home.  Not on the farm this time, but the family will be there.  Things are far from perfect.  In fact, there are some real challenges many of us are facing, but we still have much much to be thankful for.

Here is a start.  I apologize up front if my list seems superficial to some who may read this in much worse situations, but here I go.  I am grateful for:

  • hot and cold running water
  • several modes of reliable transportation
  • heat, gas and electricity
  • a warm, clean bed
  • a washer and dryer and clean clothes
  • for a loving husband of almost 40 years
  • for a loving church family and friends in several languages around the globe
  • hopes, dreams and plans that my Lord superintends on my behalf
  • ……????

Now, it’s your turn.  In the comments put one (or more) thing you are grateful for.   Let’s see how far this can go.

And oh yes, if you are traveling, safe journeys!

 

 

How Martin Luther Affected All Of Our Destinies – A Tribute

We do not become righteous by doing righteous deed but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds.  Martin Luther

I am not a Lutheran.  Although I appreciate much of their theology, I attended a Methodist Church growing up.   A movement that grew out of the Anglican church and although much removed from its roots – the tree does flow back into the Roman Catholic faith.  However, there is no disputing the effect the reformation had on both the faith of my childhood as well as the path my German ancestors took.

Reformation Trickle-Down
In the mid 1860’s my great great grandfather and his brother, left Germany for the United States.  The conditions that created the need to leave home were a combination of religious and economic upheaval.   This led to a major shift in the social structure of the time.  There were some natural climatic cycles that also affected the food supply of the region.  A long standing backdrop to all of this was the protestant reformation which began about 350 years prior.  At the time my ancestors made their move, the effects of Martin Luther’s actions had all but crumbled the feudal system.
I have no doubt that once in the United States my ancestor clung closely to the German speaking community of immigrants as he made his way west to Kansas.  Once settled in Kansas, he became a part of the Methodist church as Lutherans were not a major part of the landscape in northern Kansas.  However, this could have been the influence of my great great grandmother as to what church they affiliated with.  I get the sense that he was a man of faith,  however tending to the land and ensuring his family was fed took priority over religious activities.  Still if it had not been for the Reformation, I am not sure what the time line would have looked like for my family.
Luther And A French Education

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Flaps – A Cullen Cat at Maison Steinbuchel

A man is like a cat; chase him and he will run – sit still and ignore him and he’ll come purring at your feet. – Helen Rowland

We are cat people.  This was not always the case with me.  Oh, I had pets growing up but they were always outside pets, mostly dogs.  The attachment fell far short of what I know today.  This had to do with the fact that:

  • We were a farming community and my mother was raised on a farm;
  • Animals served a practical role and were somewhat transitory so we were not encouraged to get too attached;

If I had any real attachment to animals growing up it was to horses on my grand parents farm and to the iconic TV animals like Flicka, Lassie and Trigger. I out-grew all that when boys became more than someone to just climb trees with, but that is another subject.

Married To A Cat Person

I became a cat person when I married. My husband is a true cat whisperer and could give Jackson Galaxy some serious competition. He has an amazing way of bringing out the unique personality of any cat, of restoring cats who are damaged and to actually get them to mind! Well, mind in that “I’m a cat” sort of way. We have a lot of fun with our kitty tribe. No, we are not crazy cat people, but I have learned to truly love, appreciate and even train these furry soul-mates.

Aviation Cats

cat

The oldest of our tribe right now is Flaps. Yes, Flaps, like the control surface on an airplane. He is the fifth in a series of aviation named cats. The first three were Pitch, Roll, and Yaw. There were also Stick and Rudder.  They are gone now, but Flaps, now six-teen years old, remains.

We started the series when we acquired an airplane hangar with an apartment. The cat’s job, besides keeping us company and entertained, were to keep rodents under control in the hangar. Rodents can be very damaging to aircraft and this was our way of dealing with them. Our version of barn cats.

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picnic

A Family Summer Picnic, A Castle And Providence

This weekend I will be joining my mother, her brother and members of three of the seven branches of my maternal grandfather’s siblings for a family picnic near Boise Idaho.  Sometime in the 40s or 50s three of  my grandfather’s six siblings moved from Kansas to this area so I only knew them by name.  A large reunion of the Rightmeier clan in Kansas in 2005 and the advent of Facebook reinstated relationships  geography had eroded.

This picnic gathering has me thinking about this branch of my family tree’s German roots.  It centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:   Varenholtz.

A Castle

When my husband and I had an opportunity to visit Varenholtz in 1998, we found a landmark never mentioned in any of the family stories:  Schloss (Castle) Varenholz.  The castle location was the seat of a family of Knights , under Heinrich the Lion. Built to its current size in 1596 by Simon VI, the son of a staunch Catholic Count, who ruled the region and fiercely resisted the Protestant movements in the area.

When the elder Count died, the care of Simon VI, his son, was left to Phillip of Hessen.  Although the Count gave strict orders that his son be educated in the Catholic faith, Phillip did not adhere to this request and Simon was educated as a Lutheran, and later studied “at a reformed school in Strasbourg” where he became a follower of John Calvin (1503 – 1564).  It was in this way that Lippe became a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.

Regetmeir to Rightmeier

My maternal great great  grand-father, Frederic Regetmeier,  immigrated to the United States in 1864 at the age of 14. During this period, a long-term drought, along with political and religious unrest made living conditions in Lippe quite desperate.  In other words the feudal system was breaking down.

The life they knew was disappearing.  Word of the opportunities in America sparked by desperation, drove young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.   In reality the brothers were stowaways on a ship to New York.  It is said they jumped ship in New York harbor and swam ashore.

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A Return to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)

This will re-publish as I make a return trip to Mission Aviation Fellowship -MAF.  This time I am staying for  a few days to volunteer in the fabrication shop.  I am excited.  Following is the background for this trip from a previous post.
Many of the things that form our lives rest in the background.  They crisscross our paths making significant deposits in quiet ways.   On a trip to the northwest last year, we took time to visit the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Nampa, ID.  We have been supporters of MAF for over 20 years, but my connection to this organization goes back much further.
After our visit, I began to reflect exactly how far back this connection does go.  It, in fact, it goes back to my father. As I wrote about my father’s interaction with short-term mission trips in Costa Rica, I recalled something.  When daddy first became a pilot, he looked into becoming a missionary pilot.  He loved flying and wanted to serve using this passion and his piloting skills.
He was also a skilled mechanic and had an instinct for getting things to work.  It seemed a perfect fit.  He made inquiries thinking there might be a way to do short-term flying missions.  MAF mission did not have a provision for short term pilots.  In addition, he was not a certified air-frame and power-plant aircraft mechanic, nor a certified flight instructor nor did he possess a license for instrument flying.  These are all requirements to serve on the MAF piloting team.  Daddy found another way to serve in short-term missions but, as a result of our conversations about this, the seed of aviation as a mission tool was planted inside me.

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Making Difficult Choices – How They Become Easier

When your values are clear to you, making choices becomes easier. – Roy E. Disney

From the moment we became aware of more than our need for food, water and a warm cuddle from our parents, we have been faced with the awesome and sometimes bothersome privilege we have as humans:  making choices.

choicesAt first we had a lot of help from our parents and others who influenced our formation  in making those choices.  Ideally, we were introduced to solid values from which to make choices:

  • Values that go deeper than our mood on any given day
  • A plumb line that provides objectivity for decisions in situations that arrive in subjective, feeling based moments.

This privilege of making choices by stepping outside of ourselves is one of the many things that sets us apart from the rest of creation.  We have free will.  It is the part of our soul on which our life and its activities pivot.

We all have had situations thrust upon us in which we were faced with a decision we did not want to make.  We did not necessarily choose to be in that place, at least not directly.   After all, the free will of others comes into play in our lives as well as our own.  It is in those unwanted places where the first crucial choice is made:  will I be a victim of other’s choices or will I make the choice right for me and for the right reason?
This is subtle, because the action and the outcome in either case may be the same, but the reason, the heart behind it come from different places.  It is a place of respecting the right of others to make their choices while retaining my choice as to whether I will participate. Then to live with the outcome, whatever that might be.
 Remembering A Hard Decision
This comes to my mind each summer, because in August of 1981, actually the months leading up to that time, I was faced with a hard choice:  whether or not I would strike against the government of the United States of America.  I was
  • in my 5th year and final stage of radar training to become a journeyman air traffic control specialist.
  • a non-active and reluctant member of PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.
I really enjoyed my job.  The training was challenging and the testosterone dominated culture somewhat unkind to this twenty something. blond. no-previous-experience. female.  But I was in my element.  Spending 40 hours a week telling pilots what to do and where to go – what could be better?  Seriously!
Unpopular Choices
As a radar developmental, my information regarding the issues on which the PATCO contract negotiations were based were rather one-sided.  I did not know much about labor laws and negotiations at that time, and was not aware that staff and management were restricted on what they could say.
As things heated up and the talk of a strike escalated, I was feeling pressure.  Pressure from my fellow teammates who inferred that should I choose not to strike, my attaining of journeyman status would be in jeopardy.  Although not the ones who would sign off on my certification, as my trainers they had a great deal of influence and input into the process. They had the power to withhold support.  To simply declare that I couldn’t do the job and therefore prevent me from having the opportunity to demonstrate otherwise.
Choices by Others
Thankfully,  there were a couple of colleagues that shed some light on the situation to me.  One let me in on the contingency plan in place by the FAA in the case of a strike.  He was convinced that if a strike occurred it would be broken.  I was relieved to know that management was doing something but was not convinced any contingency plan would prevail.
Another friend made his position clear, it was too good a job to put in jeopardy and what ever happened he was not going to participate.  When I finally got above the pressure, other’s opinions and looked at the situation from outside myself, it came down to this,
  • I had taken an oath.
  • I had given my word.
  • therefore, could not participate in any action to bring the USA “to its knees”.
It was on that basis I made my choice.  If the strike prevailed I knew my working life would be made a living hell as a “scab”.  I had to be willing to face that or to walk away on my own terms from a career that I truly enjoyed and from a salary I had never dreamed of earning.
Choices In Hindsight
It has been 36 years since the 1981 PATCO strike.  The strike was broken, air traffic continued and I went on to have a wonderful career.  But that is not the point.  I was not the only one who made choices on this issue.  There were thousands who made choices during this time.  They made them for their own reasons.
I had made peace with my choice before the outcome was known and whatever the outcome, I was OK with it.  You see, the time to make choices is before the situation occurs.  In this case, I decided years before when the value that my word is my bond was instilled in me.  I had sworn an oath.
You have a free will
Your ability to choose daily, even moment by moment is precious.  In your Stonebridge journey, avoid yeilding to the “I had no choice” thought process.  What you are really saying is, “within my set of values, this was the choice I made “.  Own that.  Should that ownership not fit, then make a different decision.  Review the values you have bought into.  It is your choice.  The outcome, whatever it may be, is easier to face.
What one decision have you made that was both hard but the right one to make?  Awesome!  You are a hero.  Please share in the comments below. 

A Vertical Garden for Maison Steinbuchel

The gardener knows how to turn garbage into compost. Therefore our anger, sadness, and fear is the best compost for our compassion.  
Kayla Mueller

For over a ycompostear I have had an image in my head of a vertical garden at the back of one of our lots.  One problem:  there were four bins of compost in the spot where this needed to go.  The bins were in bad shape and needed redoing, and moving it would be a big job.

With all the gardens and a yard that surround our Historic Home along with the houses we have incorporated into the “estate’, we have a lot of yard waste.  We use a composting mower for the lawns but there remains the leavings of:
  • flower beds and borders
  • rose gardens
  • a secret garden
  • an herb garden
  • a kitchen garden (the French call it a potager)
 and of course trees.  Lots of tress.  So we compost.  I do not fuss over composting, just chuck the yard debris into the bins and let mother nature do her thing.  All that turning and churning defeats one of the main benefits of composting:  saving labor.  With compost bins at hand there is no:
  • bagging and dragging garden leavings for trash pickup (not to mention the extra cost of bags and hauling)
  • bundling of limbs and branches (we have a muncher shredder to speed up the process)
  • tramping to the garden center to lug bags of compost home – it just waits for me in my bin until needed.
 We started over fifteen years ago by building Four 4′ x 4′ x 4′ bins out of scrap lumber and old wire fence.  It served us well.  We even moved it once and did a bit of shoring up at the time, but the time had come for a fresh start.  The bins needed redoing and I needed this spot for my vision.  This moving a 16′ x 4′ x 4′ compost pile was a process.
 We built new bins out of pallets in a different location.  It took thirteen pallets to do what compostwe needed.  We also built two solid wood bins to hold the already composted soil.  The soil was sifted from the old bins into the new ones, then the old bins were torn apart.  Most of this weathered wood is set aside for some pallet shelves.
The Vertical Garden Comes to Light
With the bins moved, we were then able to build the vertical garden using (of course) stuff we had on hand:

compost

  • T-posts left from other projects (5 x $3.00)
  • Four weathered pallets left from the old bins (4 x $5.00)
  • Screws and hardware from our stash ($25.00)
  • A mixture of hanging baskets I have managed to accumulate over the years, and (of course) ($30-$60.00)
  • composted soil and plants

Hospitality – Exploring The Foundations

hospitalityHe who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,  Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalms 91:1
The concept of hospitality has a much higher meaning than is commonly thought of today, at least in my part of the world.  Although the everyday application remains valid, it lacks the depth of its’ original intent.
True hospitality is personal.  Its requires effort and energy, commitment, an awareness of other’s needs, preferences and desires – even unspoken ones.  This goes well past the hospitality industry, e.g. hotels, restaurants and other home away from home establishments.  Although once staying in a hotel adept at hospitality or eaten in a truly hospitable restaurant  you do not forget the experience.
Hospitality Is An Action
I have had such opportunities and it is nourishment for the soul and body – and generally a bit of a shock to the wallet!  Still, there is something special about feeling, well, special. Here is a description of  what I am talking about from a review of Hotel Dina in Greece:

“In the evenings, if she saw us sitting outside, she’d pull out an unlabeled bottle of local white wine, pour us each a glass and leave the bottle or grill us up some octopus. A little pat on the shoulder for me in the afternoon, a fresh towel at night, a cup of Greek coffee in the morning. Everything Dina did seemed to be touched with a sense of grace and humor. She was as warm as the sun on our yet-to-be-burned shoulders. The words she spoke to me weren’t necessarily understood, but her meaning was always clear. “You are most welcome.”

The Greeks have a word for it, but don’t they seem to have a word for everything? In this case, the word is philoxenia. Philos= love, xeno= stranger. Essentially, the word means “hospitality” but that definition is too facile. One enters a Greek household and one is immediately offered a drink and something to eat. Taking care of a guest’s wants and needs is deeply ingrained into the culture. There is a sense of generosity that seems completely unstrained. As a guest of Dina’s, even though this was ultimately (and I do not mean this cynically) to be. a moneyed transaction, I found her kindness was not something that was paid for. My stay with her completely refreshing in every sense of the word. I felt restored. And I am most grateful.”

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How Stealing Diminishes Generosity

generosity“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”  — John Wesley, Letters of John Wesley

Our neighbor’s son car was stolen while parked front of their house at 4:30 in the afternoon a few days ago.  An old Honda, not worth much by market standards,  served as reliable transportation for this young working man.  The culprits were kids with a master key (apparently) who found a moment when the son was home cleaning up between jobs.  The police were notified, but in their world an old Honda does not rise to the top of the priority stack. It was unsettling to say the least, and generosity was no where in my thoughts.
No one likes being stolen from.  I know that seems obvious, but it needs to be said.  Again.  Out loud.  Stealing has become a sport, and in response we are told and sold all kinds of things to avoid “being a victim”. Like it is somehow our fault.  Our fault for having things, or a reputation or even an identity that is so tempting to others that they somehow can’t resist stealing it.  Non-sense.  It is not our fault.
A Change of Mindset
When I have,
  • earned the means to purchase an item, no matter the price, it is mine.
  • behaved in such a way so as to have a good reputation, that is mine to own and even enjoy.
  • acted in the marketplace and in my relationships with others so that my identity is an asset, it is mine and mine alone.
To steal and/or hi-jack these things is not only a crime or illegal, it is wrong.
I am weary of authorities, who I am sure are weary of dealing with people who misbehave as a life-style, implying that somehow I did not adequately take precautions so as not to become a victim.  Again, non-sense.  I grew up in a world when you could leave your keys in the car, did not lock the doors to anything and slept securely at night.  Ladies purses were strictly off-limits, even to husbands and kids.  Toys and bikes left in the front yard remained there safely over-night or until Mom said to put them away.
This is not selfish.  This is the right of ownership.  I have blogged on this before in my “Boundaries” series, but there is another aspect to consider.

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