“I have made you a worded being – your words carving out channels of blessing. You have an explorer’s spirit and a deep and perpetual curiosity, a deep well of endless inquisitiveness.” This is Part 2 of my very wordy 2023 year-end recap. Part 1 can be found Here. The opening is a quote from my friend David Booram’s book Wisdom for Old Souls.
The Fourth Quarter
Finally by October, I was able to come inside and sit down. Insights and Miracles showed up as well. Amazing what a quiet moment in front of the fire can do. I started reading again. At age 67, I qualify as an old soul and Dave’s book called my name. Not only am I in the fourth quarter of the year, but well into the fourth quarter of my life. To reinforce old age, I decided to go gray. My hairdresser told me I had to go blonde in order to transition to gray. I look like an old bubble-headed-bleach-blonde and very doubtful Don Henley would be impressed. Nearly everyone said how wonderful I look. What is wrong with you people? But I digress. Back to the book.
Wisdom for Old Souls
Something leaped off every page to give me new perspectives and challenge some of my small thinking. There was one overriding theme catching my attention. “Life is designed to be fleeting, an evaporating mist. It is forever temporary, provisional, transitional and impermanent. You need not despair to see your parent’s generation disappear, even as you gradually become aware that yours, too, will soon be lost. But while you can, find ways to remember those who have come before.” “You were made largely incapable of remembering those who proceeded you; what they may have accomplished or what they left unfinished. Whether you want to or not, you will make room for all who are yet to come.” Wow, this is quite a new view to consider. I write in order to remember. The words will be left behind but really, who will be left to read them or even care? But what I wouldn’t give to read memories from some of my most favorite people.
God Knows – God Sees
Truly each of the 100 days of meditation in the book challenged my perspective. Day 84 spoke to my heart. “Over the years, you have offered countless acts of service and grace-filled gifts that have been forgotten. Your life, as well as most of what you have done, will soon disappear from the memories of even those who love you best. But I see. And even more, I deeply, deeply appreciate you and all you have meant to the world and to so many of My people.”
When you operate in relative isolation, it is so comforting to know there is One who is always there.
Cook Then Eat
On the happiest note from the book, “Eat – taste your food, let its flavors excite your taste buds. And drink – share a glass of fine wine with friends and strangers alike.” I know there will be no skinny people in heaven.
Cooking took on a two-fold purpose. While no longer impressed by restaurants, I prefer to recreate the best at home with a certain twist to make it my own. My friend Laura adopted a sibling set of four in her old age. She is actually crazier than me, but she trusts God for her future and she also said a prayer, much like I did, where she asked for God to give her a life that would require her entire dependence on Him. That prayer turned her life upside down.
She hates to cook. I thought I could help by teaching the girls 14, 13, 12 to cook for her. The 11-year-old boy steered clear of the kitchen until time to eat. We made fresh mango salsa and tomato salsa, quesadillas with Aunt Polly’s secret recipe. We made Key Lime Pie both with and without lime zest. When I took a bag of Kelp noodles, one of the girls said she had been dying to try them! Where on earth had she heard of kelp noodles? Girls after my own heart. Laura asked, “Don’t you ever cook anything from a box?” I just rolled my eyes. Now when I go to the store, I shop for bargains. I bought six turkeys and six hams when they were on sale and will use them throughout the year to cook for them. Laura is a blessing to me because she will drop everything to accompany me to go out to eat. She craves adult conversation because she has too many at home. I crave adult conversation because I have no one at home! Servers far and wide are shocked that I actually have a friend who will join me.
November called for a revamp of my living room. Dated framed pictures and mirrors made their way to the basement. The 20-year-old leather couch found a new home. It was an answer to prayer to find a way to get rid of it and an answer to prayer for the one willing to take it. I do not like couches and decided I would not have one. Everything centers around the fireplace. I have dinner in front of the fire on my favorite little triangular table which there is now room for. I watch documentaries from a chair in front of the TV and I read and listen to podcasts from a chair in front of the fire. My desk sits behind those chairs so I can write in front of the fire. I have room for one visitor at a time. Just the way I like it. My friend Mark Shunk started posting his landscape photos from his many travels. I saved them to my screen saver and could go to the desert southwest with him any time from the comfort of my desk chair. He gave me the idea to surround myself with the photos of famous photographers I got to know via their postings on the various groups I follow. The stories and the people are just as wonderful as the artwork.
So many people helped me on things I simply could not do myself. My Burmese neighbor carried and stacked two ricks of firewood from the big tree I had cut down. After ten days of no hot water, I was blessed with a free new hot water heater and installation through a program at the gas company. In those ten days, I used my “off grid” preparedness and showered and even washed my hair with a garden sprayer and only a gallon and a half of water. My sister and brother-in-law helped with countless projects from building a worm poop sifter, a DIY Big Berkey water filtration system, a custom corner shelf for a new TV and so much more. My friends who own Ichiban continue to shower me with delicious homemade food and gifts. Laura brought her four kids for a day of slave labor. They shoveled over 100 loads of wood chips to cover the entire perimeter of my house and actually thought it was fun. I think they liked the lunch break with chili and homemade chocolate chip, oatmeal, pecan cookies best. Another dear friend (who always wants to remain nameless) cut down the jungle so we could even find the perimeter of the house.
Meanwhile in Africa
No story of mine would be complete without an update on my African family. I now have two stories to tell. I have written a series that needs to become a book on Jerry and family Jerry’s Stories Here. You can tell from these pictures they are thriving, (well as much as you can, living in exile as a refugee.) In their darkest hour, the Lord nudged me to help. It was much like the woman in the Bible who had enough oil and flour for one loaf of bread and God asked her to use it for another and she did. Jerry used that time when I was supporting them to secure a number of contracts which sustained them. A year ago, Jerry secured a sizable multi-year contract with Hilton Corporation and he is leading their charge to advocate for and build the capacities of refugee led organizations on national, regional, and global refugee legal organizations, while also campaigning for refugee rights in Uganda. Another miracle is that the little stringed instrument I bought for the children in 2019 finally made its way to Africa four years later a little out of tune and in one piece. We want the children to learn music.
My African family grew a couple years ago when Frederick Douglass sent me an endearing letter looking for a mentor for his writing. He knew Jerry and told me he “saw humanity in me for helping Jerry.” How do you say no to that? In two years, FD has secured a miraculous scholarship for a college degree in Journalism. There is no way to adequately describe the conditions he and his family endure in a refugee camp in the middle of nowhere (where no one can see what goes on.) No electricity, no clean water and only a hut to live in. They have lived this way with very little hope and even less UN rationed food for the last 20 years. The heartbreak of their life and lack of hope makes his scholarship and assistance to obtain a computer and camera for his school something only God could orchestrate. His life and travels from camp to school are far more challenging than we can even imagine. The following pictures paint a picture. The rations you see in the bag are maize flour and rancid oil for a family of four for a month. That’s it. Every meal. Until half the month goes by and there is nothing left for the rest of the month. His faith keeps him going. His God is a God of miracles.
Ending 2023 on a Miracluous Note
The miracle of the year was reversing the effects of cataracts without surgery. I can’t see at night and was informed I had cataracts and even had the detailed exam preparing for cataract surgery. When I learned the surgery cut out the natural lens and replaces it with a man-made lens, I knew this was not for me. My views on Western medicine don’t win me any friends (and don’t solve anything for me either.) At just the right time, I learned from the King Institute, there are sequences I have learned that can indeed change the natural lens of the eye. After a month of diligent work, I found I could actually see better at night than the year before. We are fearfully and wonderfully made with a body designed to heal.
She was night blind and now she can see.
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is on a wild adventure following Christ especially for the wildest capers in far off lands with people she may never meet in person. It is a wondrous ride and after two volumes for 2023, we see why she is a wee bit tired. Let’s do it bigger and more daring in 2024!