Sunday, July 28, 2019

Blessings and Grace on Tidbits Mountain

On the horizon is Hayworth Saddle, which we can see
from home, from the other side.

"I used to think if we just did everything this certain way, our family would turn out well. But I'm finding that every family has issues! We all have our things!" my friend Shannon exclaimed in the women's Sunday school class this morning.

When I started teaching, I decided to take the class along on my personal study of the book "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I decided if anyone didn't like it, they could teach instead of me.

Today we talked about things that go wrong in families, and trust me there are many, from financially dependent adult kids to not being allowed to say certain truths out loud to doing what we do for our parents out of guilt and resentment rather than love and freedom.

Shannon expressed what we all feel. Every family has their things, no matter how much you try to get it right.

If you can find good path through your quirks and issues, you can get to an imperfect but healthy place as a family.

For my birthday in June, our son Ben, who has done over 70 different hikes in Oregon in the last year, offered to take me on a hike.

Yesterday was the day. Tidbits Mountain, Ben said. It would be four miles, round trip, with a thousand feet of elevation gain. The grade should be gradual enough for me and my difficulty with steep slopes.

I was excited to the point of giddiness as I packed my sunscreen and poles and all the other necessities.

Amy and Emily went along, since their employer, Paul's cousin Darrell, is finished with combining. We drove about an hour and a half--first south, then east into the Cascades, and north on a gravel road, up and up.

See those brave people way up on top?
Zoomed in.
The boards are the remnants of an old fire lookout tower.

We parked at the top of the last steep ascent and started up the trail. The path was shaded, the trees were enormous old-growth firs, and the wild rhododendron bushes crowded the trail.

The grade was easily manageable right up to the last quarter mile.

I didn't see any snakes.

Everyone was patient with me and my slow pace.

The views were beyond beautiful.

Ben, who was born in Canada and spent a year in Toronto as an adult, said, "I should have some Timbits along. Then I could have Timbits on Tidbits."

The screes, where huge bare rocks up above had eroded into a long river of little rocks spread down the mountainside, were the scariest parts, not because of any actual treachery or slippery rocks but because the view was so disorienting. Rocks under your feet, up one side, down down down the other, and pretty soon you feel a bit dizzy and not quite sure where to put your feet.

Ben offered to take my hand and help me across, so I had to tell them all how, back in my teenage years, the revival meeting speakers would always have a talk for the youth and tell them to have a hands-off courtship, but it was ok for a guy to take a girl's hand and help her across the creek if they were on a walk.

Ben thought this would inspire guys who were dating to go on lots of walks and find lots of creeks.

He himself is not dating at this point, and I just had to pose him beside Mt. Bachelor.

The very top of Tidbits Mountain consisted of a huge rocky structure. The kids climbed up without too much trouble. I could have, too, but I was very nervous about coming back down. About ten feet up, my phone came loose and bounced down the rocks and disappeared into a bush, where it looked like it could go falling for a long time.

It seemed like a sign that maybe I should come down lest I fall as well.

I peered into the bushes and was surprised to see something shiny reflecting back. About three feet down, the phone had come to rest on a branch and some old wire left over from a collapsed fire lookout tower. It looked like someone had carefully set it in place like you'd set a photo on a wire stand on your dresser.

The phone was unscratched and uncracked.

Sometimes I feel so fortunate I can't explain it.

We ate lunch in a shaded area and went back down the mountain, then drove away, stopping for iced tea at a little convenience store along Highway 126.

That evening, Amy cooked up some fantastic fajitas for Ben's birthday supper, since his is on Monday, a month after mine. He is 26 now. I gave him a lightweight hammock for camping.

Steven and Ben
I shared photos of the day on social media because it was so fun and beautiful, and I was that pleased. But part of me hesitated.

Not everyone is this fortunate with health, opportunity, and most of all these thoughtful, patient offsprings. I don't want to inflict pain on people in hard situations.

And yet, Tidbits Mountain is a credit to its Creator. So is any grace our family has received.

I told Shannon that yes, absolutely, every family, including ours, has its issues. But if you can love each other and speak the truth out loud, that will open a trail through some pretty rocky terrain.

Perfection is not the goal, and so much is out of our control. People get to choose, and their choices might break our hearts.

But if God in his lavish kindness grants me a son who organizes a hike with a gradual grade, just for me, then I will give Him the credit and will be as grateful as I possibly can to both of them.

Quote of the Day:
Me: I'm nervous about cougars.
Ben: Cougars usually stalk from behind, so if I'm walking behind you, you should be ok.
Emily: If I look up younger men's profiles on Facebook, are they being stalked by a cougar?

Feeling accomplished!

The view from the top.


  1. Now that our five children are all adults I can say that for us lots of love and open communication helps us get through all of our things. The closeness we developed over the years of homeschooling is the foundation of our open communication--we seem to know and trust each other. The love part comes from knowing that our family is an eternal unit and we want no empty chairs in the next life.

    You are blessed to have such a considerate and loving son! And your unhurt phone is surely a tender mercy from a loving God. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dorcas, you have an amazing ability, and the courage, to speak of the difficulties in our lives. Thanks be to God for His infinite grace, from Him and from the people He puts in our lives! And your phone...surely God's mercies are new every morning!
    So glad you could enjoy a hike with your children! Tidbits Mountain...I'll keep it in mind. We're planning a trip for Fall, 2020. Crater Lake (which I remember you writing that a relative of yours called it a "nice pond"!, Oregon Coast, and Olympic Nat'l Park are on the itinerary. I welcome your list of "must-sees".

  3. I get it--Finding uphill grades a challenge. My 68-year-old legs can march pretty fast on the level, but if I'm with a group climbing up-hill I find it hard to keep up (it's been a while but it happened a lot in Virginia). Thanks for the lovely photos, and weaving in the complexities and blessings of family dynamics. LRM

  4. Dorcas, I just read your older post inviting writers this weekend. I am sooo disappointed that I can't make it work this year, but do you have a date yet for next year? I would so love to come to a conservative western writer's conference. I'm not Anabaptist, but I'm conservative and pretty close in many ways. I LOVE your writings and I use and read a lot of Christian Light books and material, and I have a similar style as you do with my blog and stories. Right now I'm working on editing the story of our courtship in Ukraine when I was a missionary there in 1993, just after the "wall" came down . So many fascinating things that happened in that dramatic year there in Ukraine and in my life after this strange young man from Colorado wrote to ask to get acquainted. This is our 25th anniversary year, and I wanted to write up our story, because it is truly unique.
    Anna Lucas