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Josiah’s Story about the 4th of July & Val’s Arbutus Beach & Cottage Reminiscences

Source: Josiah’s Story about the 4th of July

Hey, my son Josiah shared some of his insights about the 4th of July & celebrating near our family’s Cottage in Gaylord, Michigan.  There are some lively discussions going on in the Comments Section of his original post, so I wanted to link that post here on my page to find it more easily going forward.

There are some beautiful descriptions of Michigan there from people who have visited over the years!  It’s so great to find even visitors to Michigan have been blessed here!

All of what you see below got generated by looking for appropriate images…which led to reminiscing about life & times Up North…Whew, that was fun but also unexpected!

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This is a picture of Otsego Lake, Gaylord, MI at sunset & that is the very dock used by the street where The Cottage is located & this dock is lovingly maintained by a kind year-round neighbor–image found via a Bing.com image search for “Otsego Lake, Michigan”!

 

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Map of Otsego Lake, Michigan from a Bing.com image search

For the 4th of July, Gaylord usually conducts their Fireworks Show from the Otsego County Park shooting the fireworks off over the Lake.  We get a front row seat to this majestic & patriotic display from “our” beach.  Usually the lake fills with boats so that people watch the show from all angles and situations.  After the County show oftentimes there are many neighbors up & down the beach that put on pretty impressive personal displays, even before such elaborate explosives were available in-state.  Some of the regular out of state visitors also packed quite a bang-up version of personal 4th displays!

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This is similar to our fireworks view, from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord Michigan fireworks”

From this map of Otsego Lake, you can see that the Lake is roughly 5 miles long and about 1 mile wide at its widest, and many generations of the extended family have taken pride in swimming across the lake–including me!  The Cottage is located along the Northern most side of “The Pointe” that is prominent just North of Otsego Lake State Park.  If you would bisect that Pointe the Northern half would constitute Arbutus Beach, originally set up as a Public Beach (so the Lakefront property owners don’t technically own the Beach between their property & the water).  The Southern half of that Pointe, all the way to Old 27 Highway would be Pine Beach, where Uncle Hugh, Aunt Bernice, & their kids Tom & Karen had cottages.  Pine Beach was set up as Private Beach property so that the lake-front people own the Beach down to the water.  The other owners in Pine Beach only have water access at a couple of access points, somewhat like at the end of the roads.  We actually “slept under the stars” on our cousins’ beach a few times, but that was a more regular occurrence during my Dad’s & Aunt Pat’s Endless Summers of Fun!

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This view is looking South, with The Pointe protruding into the water…from earlier times, like my Dad’s childhood; from a Bing.com image search for “otsego lake, gaylord michigan “

Now Arbutus Beach, because of various lawsuits & disputes has become “The Arbutus Beach Association”.  This makes the Beach rather “semi-private”, whereby in order for people from outside the Association to technically have access to the beach, they need to be guests of Association Members.  We lived at The Cottage during the time the whole lawsuit thing was just getting underway.  In fact, I was operating as an Avon Lady, with a territory that encompassed the entire Arbutus & Pine Beach area.  The Lawsuit was a frequent topic of conversation as I made may way through my Avon Territory and I heard many sad stories from residents.  In some cases friends who had known/interfaced with each other for generations were no longer speaking because they were on opposite sides of the (pointless) disputes.  To my knowledge, some of those historically congenial relationships were permanently destroyed through this lawsuit & subsequent legal maneuvering & fallout.  The only “winners” in all of that were the lawyers…

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This is the sign as you enter Arbutus Beach off Old 27, from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

Since my Dad & Aunt Pat, and their cousins Tom & Karen, spent their Summers at Otsego Lake, we get plenty of historical insights & nostalgia about the way things used to be up there.  They traveled around with a bunch of similarly aged kids some of whom lived Up North year round and some of whom, like all of them, were Summer Refugees from Detroit, including a gang of kids at the next most northern train stop, WaWaSoo.  They speak fondly of the days when there were fewer docks & boats on the lake, like two pictures above.  There also were many community events that happened around the lake, at least in the Summer time.  There are many ads in the Gaylord Herald Times Newspapers from like a hundred years ago that show the vibrant community life that seemed to revolve around Otsego Lake back in the day (see some links at the very end of this posting)…The below picture is an historical one of the Resort where historically many community events were held, I believe.  This is now a private residence with a huge dwelling erected on the former community-centric site.

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

 

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My Great Grandparents’ Cottage & one of their rental cottages in the foreground; from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

The above picture shows cottages that are on the street set back from the lake and near the top of the hill.  You can just see the lake in the distance in the middle left of this photo, beyond the car.  This appears to be one of the cottages my great grandparents Rowland Edward & Florabelle Mansell Thompson used to rent to others.  The white cottage in the center of the picture was the cottage my great grandparents moved to Arbutus Beach and was apparently the first cottage there.  The story goes that they bought the lumber company’s manager’s cottage/office? from the South West side of Otsego Lake.  It was pulled by horses over rolling logs across the frozen Lake one winter.

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses pull house across frozen lake”

Though I couldn’t find a picture showing horses pulling a house across a frozen lake, the size of the logs in the above picture and to some degree the time frame may be representative of the process of moving my Great-Grandparents’ First Arbutus Beach Cottage across Otsego Lake.  Also, my Dad’s namesake & grandfather, William Ellsworth Stoddard, found his calling working in lumber, first in Northern Michigan and later managing his boss’ lumber yard in Detroit…WES also had a Gaylord cottage as did several of his children, my Grandpa Elzine Munger Stoddard’s siblings.

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses pull building”

I guess if you add the above two pictures together, divide by two, and pull the building over ice it Might Approximate what allegedly happened with my Great-Grandparents’ First Cottage!  At some time I hope to peruse the historical newspapers from that location & era to see if there might be some mention of this momentous event.  It sounds like the kind of local color piece that would have been so interesting to read from that time period.  Alternatively I may try to see if the Gaylord/Otsego County Historical Society has some record of this event–and hopefully pictures to go with the account!  There’s another couple approximations of that event below…though my great-grandparents’ cottage was bigger (or did it only become bigger later???)…However this was accomplished, it was likely a pretty big deal and involved quite a few people & animals…I would have loved to have heard the tale from my Great Grand Father, as he was a notorious Tall Tale Teller!

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses move building”

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses move building winter”

 

After my Great-Grandparents, Rowland & Florabelle Thompson, died one of their Grandsons, Kenny Moore, who lived in Traverse City, owned their original cottage for many years.  He sold it to his mother’s brother, Thurman Thompson, who lived in California and would occasionally return to Michigan to visit his sisters Vivian Beatrice Thompson Stoddard (my grandmother) & Bernice Genevieve Thompson (Tom & Karen’s mother–she married Hugh Orr Thompson so basically retained her maiden name as a married woman).  After Uncle Thurman died one of his daughters, Mary Louise, inherited the cottage & she eventually moved to Michigan to live there year round.

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from a Bing.com image search for “Fairview Cemetery, Gaylord, Michigan”

By the way  all the names mentioned in the above paragraph, excepting Kenny & Mary, are buried in Fairview Cemetery in Gaylord.  My parents recently bought lots in the vicinity of where my Dad’s first cousin Tom was so lately laid to rest.  Though I hope that it is still many, many years before we need to put that land to use, it is a comfort to know that Mom & Dad will be buried so near so many of the relations on my Dad’s side and so close to our beloved Cottage.  We visited Tom’s grave over Memorial Day and it was a beautiful weather day, though of course bitter sweet in our loss…It was also remarkable the high volume of Military Service represented in that Cemetery, for it appeared that close to half of those graves, going back at least to the Civil War, carried American Flags to honor their Service!

 

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

This above picture is the cottage that lies between our family Cottage and Otsego Lake–you can see the white “sleeping porch” of Our Cottage behind their side entrance roofing.  When I was a child I used to play with the kids who visited there.  When Michael & I lived at The Cottage in ’93 & ’94 our Pastor’s wife’s sister & brother-in-law lived there with their family.  Later it was bought by a Gaylord native who worked & lived downstate.  It recently changed hands and is now a rental cottage for the new owners.

The swing & platform in the above photo was erected by our neighbors across the street to accommodate the matriarch of that clan when she comes to visit from Florida.  When I was a kid my Grandma & I would sit on the immense log that marked the line between grass & beach to watch sunsets & chat, under where the swing & platform now reside.  Virtually every evening my Dad will sit on that swing, with his sister if she’s Up North, or my Mom, myself, or any of the many grand-kids who might be about to see if there will be yet another spectacular sunset display (& I’ve seen many people up & down Arbutus Beach do this too).

The white cottage on the left is owned by a lovely lady who also spent her growing up Summers at The Lake, like my Dad & Aunt did.  She comes up from Ohio and spends a lot of time Up North throughout the year in her retirement.  To the right of the swing (not in the picture) is a small brown cottage that was owned for many years, possibly generations, by one of the families who generated that dreaded & divisive lawsuit.  They were from California and the man’s brother also had a place further North within the Arbutus Beach community.  The little lake-front gem recently changed hands & is now owned by a couple who live further up the street year round, & maintain that dock in the very top photo above.  They turned that little cozy cottage into a rental place & my parents actually rented it one Summer when so many of our clan were Up North for the 4th for extra sleeping & hangout space–it was quite lovely!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

It’s possible that the above picture is from the “Arbutus Beach Highlands”, a small residential community just East of Old 27, across from the Arbutus Beach & Pine Beach neighborhoods & entrance.  Several years ago, Josiah & I along with Brandon & Clarissa spent about 3 weeks at the Cottage in Gaylord.  We walked along the wooded trails of the Highlands, to pick some wild blackberries.  During one of our excursions we ran across some Elk foot/hoof prints.  We would regularly also see Deer prints, but not the animals. Another time, August 2013 to be specific, as Josiah was recuperating following his Liver Transplant in July, he & I had an extended Cottage visit.  On that trip I actually saw a small Red Fox along the Train Tracks where you turn into Arbutus Beach–the only time ever in 50+ years of personal excursions there!  There is so much Natural Beauty abounding in the area.  Sometimes it reminds me of my Grandma, who died in the 1970s, to see the various plants & animals, as we used to walk to the Pointe & some of the wooded pathways together & just talk….She used to be a Teacher, loved kids, and shared her love of God’s world directly with me!!!  These are such treasured memories…

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from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord, Michigan”

Above is an historical image of the Call of the Wild Museum.  This is a dated though fun family outing place, especially on bad weather days.  My husband often takes our kids there to buy yet another cool knife from their well stocked Gift Shop.  There are many trophy animals on display there including quite a few specimens taken by the legendary hunter, Fred Bear.  He was a dear friend & mentor to hunter, rocker, conservative commentator, and “Motor City Mad Man” Ted Nugent.  I believe Ted has connections to Northern Michigan, but I think more so to the Grayling area, about 1/2 hour South of Gaylord, where he obtained a lot of Fred Bear’s property following Fred’s passing.  I also believe that Fred Bear was a very gifted Archer and even has a particular bow named after him.  In our family my husband brought the Bow Hunting tradition to Michigan when we moved Up North as Newly-Weds.  He used to get various bow-hunting magazines then & I believe Michigan had more bow hunters than any other state!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord, Michigan”

Gaylord is practically perfectly situated for Four Seasons Living, equidistant between the Equator & the North Pole.  It is known to have the highest snowfall in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  The last Winter we lived there, 1996-1997,  I believe it had roughly 220 inches of snow!  Even so, they did a great job of maintaining the road conditions so driving wasn’t too hazardous, relatively–except, of course, during white outs!  There is some picture in the family vault showing The Cottage with snow up to the eaves of the roof, similar to the image below!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord, Michigan winter”

 

Well I’ll leave this meandering trip down Memory Lane with another stunning Otsego Lake Sunset!  In case you can’t tell, I Love The Cottage, Arbutus Beach, and Gaylord, Michigan & am so thankful that my husband Michael & I began our family there!!!  In fact we may have the only Gaylord born relation within the extended clan, in our firstborn, Nathaniel, who was born in Gaylord, and marked on The Wall at just one day old. We gifted him the nickname of Jackpine Savage because of that Northern Michigan birth!  The Wall would be the Door Jambs at The Cottage between the Dining Room & Living Room.  The Inner-Facing Jamb on the Lake side has my Dad’s Generation & spouses.  The Inner-Facing Jamb on the Garage side has My Generation & spouses.  The Dining Room Facing Jamb on the Lake side has My Kid’s Generation.  Finally, the Dining Room Facing Jamb on the Garage side has my first cousin’s grand-kids–as in my generation’s grand-kids & my dad’s great grand-kids, whenever our side adds to that generation.  No one has been marked on that wall immediately after birth except for Nathaniel…& speaking of marking, the Fourth of July is the traditional time to check everyone’s height (including against existing & ancestral markings)…& this year we get to add in our latest family member, Nathaniel’s New Bride, Tara!

All our years are written with love in the very fibers of The Cottage!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

PS If you’d like to see a Newspaper article from back when Michael & I and the Boys lived in Gaylord check it out here, on pages 1, 4, & 5:

http://207.74.70.101:8080/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-6631/1996-11-07%20Thu%20Building%20Familes.pdf

Page 2 of the below newspaper tells of some of the history of Arbutus Beach and speaks so highly of Otsego Lake as a natural beauty filled resort vacation destination–in 1923!

http://207.74.70.101:8080/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-8848/1923-07-26%20Thu.pdf

The below link goes to the searchable Newspaper Archive for the Otsego County Library!

http://207.74.70.101:8080/docushare/dsweb/HomePage

 

 

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Advice for the Young and Penniless Who Want to Travel. — The Shooting Star

This is all the advice I wish someone had given me when I was sixteen.

via Advice for the Young and Penniless Who Want to Travel. — The Shooting Star

Although the age part is not applicable to me, but rather to my children…the budget part sure does apply.  When I was in High School I was a member of American Field Service (AFS), an international student exchange program and was selected to go on a Summer AFS exchange.  Unfortunately for me there was literally No Place in the Entire World that wanted me…wow.  I did get very close to the International Exchange students at my high school during my senior year, especially Monina & Edgardo from the Philippines, Astrid from Germany, and Veronique from Belgium.  Veronique & I even had fun on an outing in downtown Detroit & Greektown where I got the chance to practice my fairly rudimentary French skills in conversation with her.

I plan to return to the above blog post to check on some of the authoress’s online recommendations…and to share her insights with my more adventurous kids…and perhaps some of their friends.  My husband has done his share of armchair travelling using Google Street View and Google Earth…something I have yet to try but hope to at least apply to genealogical endeavors, as in getting a digital glimpse of an historically significant place…at least from a family history perspective eventually…Blessings, Valerie

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Bing.com image search for “the earth is the Lord’s”

Christianity & Judaism–“One in the Olive Tree!”

I recently read a provocative posting about the conversion of a well known atheistic Jew to Christianity…a criticism of the book bearing the testimony of this faith discovery written by a learned Rabbi, who periodically writes for PJMedia.com.  Within the the lively and unfortunately contentious comments section was the below gem…worth further pondering, in my opinion…

I believe this is an historical symbol used by Jewish believers in Jesus…image is from:

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/29231/Default.aspx

This person’s analysis and perspective on the early genesis (excuse the pun!) of Christianity is well thought out and respectfully presented.  I do not have direct personal knowledge of many of the “facts” presented here but I share this person’s writings so that further dialogue, research, and introspection could follow on from this.

As such, to briefly state my current perspective on this topic, I think the very best version of a faith heritage would (likely) be someone who was raised in the traditional Jewish faith and later on came to the “completed” knowledge of Jesus and their personal Lord. Savior, AND Messiah!  I guess even better would be to be raised in a Messianic Jewish household replete with the beauty of the Historical Traditions of Judaism and the fullness of the knowledge of the completeness of the work of the Cross by our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It is truly an extreme historical irony that the early leaders of “The Way”–which later became known as Christianity–argued amongst themselves as to whether or not one had to first become a Jew before becoming a Christian…as in being a Christian (in their minds) actually required someone to be a Jew first.  Now the opposite distortion seems to be in play, in order to accept that Jesus is the (Jewish) Messiah you cannot be a Jew, for such a belief negates your very Jewishness–Wow!

In my personal history there is a loose degree of connection to this topic, at least from a theoretical perspective; my own mother was adopted as an infant and the desire to learn about that unknown heritage was (and continues to be) a key motivating factor in my initial interest in Genealogy (before this pastime’s unique additive tendencies took over!).  It is still my hope that eventually my genealogical endeavors will unearth factual Jewish blood in my background (among many other as yet uncovered inherited enhancements of genetic/cultural/historical/racial/geographical etc facets)…even if I never am blessed with that overt cultural biological heritage.  I am so thankful to have been “grafted” into the vine and to be a child of Abraham, by virtue of Faith, if not also by flesh…

I have on several occasions enjoyed teachings by Messianic Rabbis both on the radio and in person.  The richness of the cultural heritage of the Jews is something many of us raised in the Gentile Christian faith cannot really come close to fathoming.  I’ve even said on a number of occasions that it would be amazing for someone as a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) to be able to be fully immersed in some aspects of Jewish cultural tradition, like Hebrew school.  Having attended a Seder (Passover) event hosted by Messianic Jews I found the experience incredibly faith enriching…especially as the host was unashamed to draw our attention to the clear parallels/foreshadowing of traditional Christian beliefs hidden within so many aspects of this treasured historical and traditional observance.

In an ideal world All believers in the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob as well as Moses, David, Solomon, Job, and the Biblical Prophets would recognize the Way, the Truth, and the Life that is available for ALL in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

So enjoy the comment below…and feel free to check out the original article (at the link below) too…The comment was copied in its entirety with no editing on my part…and please if anyone chooses to comment here on this posting be considerate of others in how your phrase things since this is an obviously complex & controversial topic…

https://pjmedia.com/faith/2016/09/21/andrew-klavans-great-good-thing/?singlepage=true

Rabbi Zarmi,

Respectfully, one ought not say that “Christianity is based upon the three synoptic gospels.” That is very much like saying that “Judaism is based upon Leviticus.”

Christianity is based upon the teaching given by Jesus to those “apostles” upon whom Jesus conferred authority, divine assistance, and an explicit mission, to:

1. spread his teaching; and,
2. welcome persons of every nation and tribe into his “kingdom”

To “The Twelve” (with a companion named Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot who betrayed him after the latter died), Jesus promised divine assistance, such that “what [they] bound on earth was bound in heaven, and what they loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.”

He also gave them a liturgical act to be performed as a kind of Temple service parallel to that of priests serving in the Temple. The early Jewish Christians called it the todah or Thanksgiving Offering; the later Greek Christians translated this as “Eucharist.” This act was, all at once, supposed to be Jesus’ reworking of the pascha and a todah and even the korbanot ofYom Kippur and Sukkot, remodeled into a single sacrifice in which the death of Jesus himself was to be endlessly re-encountered through the ages “in an unbloody way.”

In creating this liturgical act, Jesus washed the feet of Simon Peter and the others that they might “have a share in [him],” after the fashion of the Levites whose “share” is G_d. And Jesus commanded them to do this sacrifice “in remembrance” (Gk: anamnesis; Hb: azkarah/zikkaron). In this way Jesus intended to culminate all the sacrificial life of Israel in himself, and to make it the center of the life of the Messianic Kingdom.

Furthermore, although Jesus claimed that he came for “the lost sheep of Israel” (not, mind you, merely Judah; but all Israel), he then told his authorized teachers (the Twelve and the Seventy Two) that he had made them judges in his expanding “tribe of G_d” and royal stewards for his “kingdom of G_d” and told them: “Go into all the world making disciples of all the nations, teaching them whatever I have commanded you, and baptizing them” — the latter being his selected “adoption rite” for entering the covenant people of G_d, parallel to circumcision for the Jew.

Now, none of that involved writing anything down.

Christians call the body of teaching which Jesus gave to those whom he sent out (“apostles”) the “Apostolic Deposit of Faith.”

The 27 books which early Christians called “the memoirs of the apostles” and modern Christians call “the New Testament” are, for Christians, writings which bear witness to the life of Jesus and the initial giving of the Apostolic Deposit of Faith.

I apologize for the length of this (I’m almost done!).

I offer you this clarifying information, Rabbi Zarmi, because I think you and I have corresponded previously here in the comboxes on PJmedia, and I remember you as someone willing to make an effort to not mis-characterize things.

For Christians, Christianity is the Apostolic Deposit of Faith. When Christians divide amongst themselves and disagree on religious matters it is because one group is asking, “Is Doctrine XYZ really part of the deposit of faith?” and another is saying, “Yes” and then the two are disagreeing about who, if anyone, has authority to say that it is or isn’t.

Serious, “orthodox” Christians all hold that Paul of Tarsus and Matthew and Luke and John and James and Peter were allteaching exactly the same deposit, whether by spoken witness or in writing. But all their writings differ in flavor because they were written…
(a.) by different persons,
(b.) in different genres,
(c.) for different audiences,
(d.) to address different needs and topics.

Therefore, it would be an error to (for example) hold that John’s gospel was teaching a different thing from those of Matthew, Mark or Luke; or that Paul’s writings teach a different thing from the gospels; or that the letter of James represented some kind of contrary teaching to Paul.

And consequently one can’t really say Christianity is “based on” a subset of these books, or even all of them together. For the Christian, those books are “based on” the person of Jesus and the teaching he wanted transmitted.

I think the dialogue between Rabbi Jacob Neusner and the Catholic Josef Ratzinger who became Pope (now Pope Emeritus) Benedict XVI is the most instructive on this topic.

See: http://chiesa.espresso.repubbl…

Hopefully I”ll be able to locate the lyrics and music to a very appropriate song…

Jew and Gentile
by Joel Chernoff

Album: The Restoration of Israel
by Joel Chernoff


Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah,
One in Yeshua, one in the olive tree.
Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah,
One in Yeshua’s love.

Help us Father, to love one another,
With humble hearts, Forgiving each other,
Heal our wounds, bind us together,
So the world might believe.

One in Yeshua’s love,
One in Yeshua’s love,
One in Yeshua’s love,
Sing it all together.

These lyrics are from this site (we have this song on a CD “The Road to Jerusalem”):

http://www.invubu.com/music/show/song/Joel-Chernoff/Jew-and-Gentile.html

and this should lead to the music on youtube, hopefully…Enjoy!

“Touching The Past” & The Old Key

“I hope the drive to discover our family’s past also leads us to share it with close and distant family in order to pay the proper homage to generations past.”

Brass Key fancy

That quote is at the end of this lovely blog post (see below). There is so much richness in what he wrote. What a lovely personal sharing of the meaningfulness of those that have gone before us and the special treasures they have left behind through which we can also connect to them.

This post inspires me to want to go through some of my own inherited treasures, and more particularly through many of the older items that enhance The Cottage ambiance Up North…to capture their stories (as known or speculated) and to record these musings for our present edification and other’s future enlightenment.

One small “treasure” that I hope will pass down to me from my parents some distant future day is a large brass key that my grandparents found beach-combing along the shores of one of the Great Lakes (Erie?). When my dad was young he used to teethe on it.

This key represents mystery to me. It has a tangible connection to my Family of Origin but an unexplored and likely unknowable connection to the past. It very well could even be evidence of some long ago shipwreck. Also, its size suggests that it went to something significant like perhaps a large trunk or even an ancient door. Although its true origins will likely Never be known it’s more recent personal past is quite precious to me.

So now the “To Do List” needs to expand into the cataloging of personal history archival exhibits…What (at least theoretical) Fun!

Blessings,

Valerie

PS  The key image above is similar to my Dad’s key, though his is less ornate…but I really liked how it was presented in the above picture; image from this site–

http://www.bluewillowhouse.com/2015/05/28/ttt-week-38-vintage-finds/

…perhaps because I also appreciate so much of the creatively imaginative Steampunk artistic galaxy…hmm…

Moore Genealogy

Carl with the 172 year old Monty Family Bible. Carl with the 172 year old Monty Family Bible.

On our recent trip to our hometown, my wife and I were very fortunate to be able to see and hold items that once belonged and were used by my wife’s ancestors. But even more fortunate we were to learn some of the stories behind these articles. This experience helped to bring these people from mere dates in the past to real individuals who gave the breath of life to future generations. Much of this was made possible by my wife’s cousin Carl Gonya who before high school took up the mantle of the family historian. His exhaustive research into the family lines started long before the internet made things so much easier but in many cases made for shoddier research. His collection of family artifacts and pictures is impressive and the result of diligent family research.

The 172 years old…

View original post 500 more words

Val’s Day & the Giving & Receiving of Names

Ok, technically it’s Valentine’s Day…but there’s just a bit of enjoyment by using this shortened moniker when your name also happens to be Valerie…

So I’m not actually much for celebrating this seemingly made up for Hallmark coffers “holiday”…but I’m all for the celebration of love!  And apart from the Love of the Lord there is no greater love than that of a family…and being the perpetual family historian for my own clan has lent a measure of appreciation for our names, their meanings (actual or folkloric), and the line stretching back into our personal, familial, ancestral past.

Given that my birthday is a half week off from Valentine’s Day I’ve always wondered if the proximity of that holiday influenced my parents in their naming of me…hmm?

Valerie means (at least this is the meaning I “remember” & assign to it now) “strong in body and mind; persistent, will succeed”…and that perceived meaning has provided a measure of comfort and perseverance during difficult seasons in my life.

Lynn, my middle name (that I really wish were spelled “Lynne”) means “clear, light, water from a brook”…and since my mother’s name is Elaine, it also seems like a shade/flavor take on her own name…

Stoddard, my maiden name, has at least one folkloric meaning from some of the genealogical books I’ve consulted.  In the legendary past this surname apparently applied to the Standard Bearer, and supposed cousin, of William the Conqueror.  Stoddard was a time modified distortion of “de la standard”.  Some genealogical tomes completely refute that potentially folkloric meaning.  The less romantic origin may be that of “stud-herd” as in the keeper of the horses.  I’ve often chosen (in the rare times I contemplate the meaning of my birth surname) to consider the “standard bearing” “origin” to be more meaningful, and this especially so being quite informed by my faith and the need to represent Christ, being in a manner of speaking a “standard bearer” for the King of Kings–the True Conqueror.

My husband, Michael, has a name with more spiritual roots, “one who is like God”.  It is interesting that when he was born his mother, who was Not a Believer at that time (nor, presumably, was his father) chose to “dedicate him to the Lord”…since she really had no idea of what that might entail nor did she have any sort of plan to raise him in the “fear and admonition of the Lord”.  Michael has in many ways lived up to his name in that he makes it a regular practice to submit his human/fleshly side to the Lordship of Jesus and in many ways is thus enabled to embody Christ to his family.

Michael’s middle name, Ellsworth, is also shared by my father, and our firstborn son, Nathaniel.  I don’t carry an “Ellsworth” meaning in my back pocket, so at some point I’ll perhaps supplement this post with a collection of some of the “meanings” available online.

When Michael and I were first getting to know each other we ended up having a conversation about our names and in particular middle names.  He wanted me to guess his middle name based on the initial “E”.  After entertaining several of the “usual suspects” like Edward or Eugene I ultimately said (with the half squint eye that is a Stoddard family inheritance) “it wouldn’t be Ellsworth would it?”  Michael was dumbfounded as no one in his entire life had Ever correctly guessed his name.  In an interesting twist, it actually turned out that we Both had fathers named “William Ellsworth”.

Tracing the Ellsworth name passage throughout our different lineages has been one of the interesting rabbit trails to indulge in periodically.  In fact I was eventually able to discover that Michael’s grandfather also bore the Elsworth middle name, though apparently with only one “l”…it’s is nearly “confirmed” that his great grandfather also carried that same name.  I am still actively pursuing that “Ellsworth/Elsworth” line of inquiry to see if it will lead any place interesting…and it would ultimately be interesting if it were possible to discover the origin in both our families…if that is even possible.

Our son, Nathaniel Ellsworth, and his girlfriend (and likely soon-to-be fiancee) have already discussed the passing on of the Ellsworth tradition.  They are currently planning to gift “Ellsworth” to the next generation should the Lord decide to grace their expected union with a son…

Here’s the current progression of Ellsworth in both our families:

William Ellsworth Curren

Clarence Elsworth Curren

William Ellsworth Curren

Michael Ellsworth Curren

Nathaniel Ellsworth Curren—future baby Ellsworth Curren, God willing

Valerie Lynn Stoddard Curren

William Ellsworth Stoddard

Elzine Munger Stoddard

William Ellsworth Stoddard

(I wish you could see the above names in the formation in this post creation…it involved indenting each succeeding generation so that Nathaniel and his theoretical future son were the tip of the arrow with all of our successive names the angled cutting edge of the weapon.  Given how the Bible refers to children being arrows in the quivers of their father this visual representation seems particularly apropos)…

Psalm 127:4-5 New International Version (NIV)

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+127:4-5&version=NIV

 

As you can see, Nathaniel has two grandfathers and two great, great grandfathers named “William Ellsworth”, though obviously with different surnames.  On the Curren side, the Ellsworth naming is unbroken while on the Stoddard side it is an every other generation practice…

When we were having children and during the course of giving them names we often would look to “baby books” on the meanings of names to help inform our decision.  In fact, prior to Nathaniel’s birth, we had actually “planned” on naming him “Brandon”.  As an aside I was almost named “Holly” and our daughter was almost named “Brianna” or “Patience Helanne”.  Anyway, Michael recalls that the hospital staff put “Brandon” on the bassinet label after Nathaniel’s birth, but before we had “officially” named him and filled out the required paperwork.  In a sadly ironic way we actually were reading baby names on the hospital discharge plastic bag (for carrying home the sitz bath paraphernalia, among other things) when we saw “Nathaniel” and its meaning “Gift of God”…and it fit and stuck…

Brandon, our second son, has a name meaning “beacon on a hill, a sword or a flame”.  His middle name, Emmanuel, means “God with us” and was also the middle name of my mother’s father, John Emmanuel Koski.

Josiah, Brandon’s twin brother, our third son has a name meaning “God will heal and protect”.  We did not specifically recall that meaning when we named the twins, though we tentatively agreed to call them B & J.  We made the final decision over the phone, while I was in the hospital and the twins were both in the NICU following a deliberate premature delivery at 33 1/2 weeks to “get the little guy out before he dies”–to quote the high risk neonatalogist/OB overseeing myself and the twins.  Michael was adamant that “we should call the little guy Josiah”.  Given the myriad medical and other challenges that ensued (and will likely fill Many Future Postings here) this name’s meaning was both providential and comforting.  Josiah carries my maiden name, Stoddard, as his middle name; so even though I am my parents’ only daughter I was still able to pass along the Stoddard name to the next generation.

Our daughter, and last child, is named Clarissa, which, I believe, means “clear, light, a babbling brook” so in a fashion, and more artistically and subtly naming her, to some degree, after my middle name, which follows loosely from my mother’s name’s meaning as well.  Clarissa’s middle name, Chantelle means “a stone or a song”.  Given my mother’s perpetual love for vocal music and lifelong pursuit of the same this name also obliquely honors her and her life.  The “Patience Helanne” possibility saw “Helanne” invented by me as a way to honor both of Clarissa’s grandmothers, Elaine & Anne.

My parents liked to link their initials together, WES & EEK to make WE SEEK.  This was reflective of their desire to seek the things of the Lord, a primary focus of their lives.

My paternal grandparents combined their names, Elzine & Vivian into El Viva…which was Latin, I believe, for “the life”.  They drew this “El Viva” into the cement pad they installed in the yard of their Northern Michigan Cottage (The Cottage) as the foundation for a river rock stone fireplace that were apparently being constructed near ubiquitously in their neighborhood in that era.  Several years ago my youngest brother, Michael, led the efforts to deconstruct the crumbling fireplace and re-purpose its stones into a glorious fire pit that now sees persistent use, unlike the former fireplace that was mostly a surface upon which to lay things.  The concrete pad with “El Viva” still survives and is sometimes used to support a picnic table in the summer.

Seeing “El Viva” when visiting The Cottage stirs warm memories and thoughts in my heart.  It is a tangible reminder of their love and vitality that continues to live on in the veins and hearts of their natural, and to some degree spiritual, descendants.  We still leave my grandfather’s name “E. M. Stoddard” on the rural mailbox label/sign even though he’s been dead nearly 3 decades.  There are times when Cottage conversations turn nostalgic and my father can speak of his father in the present tense, as if he were in fact actually still there.  In so many ways my grandpa’s essence so permeates The Cottage it can seem like he’s just been there…from the eternal perspective, that our lives are but a vapor, in a sense it is just as if he only just stepped out…

Back to names, and Finally wrapping up today’s posting…Curren means “hero”.  This is a meaning that may be frequently reinforced within our family.  I often call Michael “my hero” or tell my kids because they are “Currens” they are “heroes”.  This can be a reminder as to how to conduct themselves during times of intense stress, pressure, or conflict.

The meaning of names is significant.  There are cultures who keep names secret as a way to protect the perceived/presumed power of a person.  Names don’t have to either limit or define us, but they seem to, at least to the degree we may be aware of their “meaning”, influence us.  There is a bit of mystery here.  Is it a part of “self-fulfilling prophecy”, or do names impact how people treat us.  Would “Norma” have gone as far if she hadn’t changed to “Marilyn Monroe” or “Marian” has he not turned to “John Wayne”?  Hmm…

Here’s a couple of relevant biblical passages (copied from Biblegateway.com):

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
It seems that our “true name” is only one that can be bestowed by our Heavenly Father.  I’d like to think that my husband and I cooperated in God’s plan for our children’s lives in choosing names well suited to assist them in the unique and difficult journey of life.  My own name “persistent, will succeed” has at times given me that slight nudge to not give up and that tenacity has been a vital resource to endure and at times overcome some of the brutal realities life has seen fit to throw my way.  By God’s Grace and Favor this overcoming and persistence shall continue especially during these challenging & overwhelming times.
Obviously this is well more than enough for today, Val’s Day…a day for Love & Remembrances.  Thanks for reading and riding along a bit here.  God Bless YOU…may He grant you True Love…especially that which comes directly from Him.
Valerie

Special Connections Origin

This was a name I came up with for a theoretical support group I’d hoped to start and facilitate at our local church.  Originally the idea was to link women who were facing “special needs” situations.  Several women in my church are mothers of special needs kids.  Later, a few women lost close family members and were weighed down by grief.  The idea for the “Special Connections” group was expanding…

Ultimately I personally got bogged down with things going on in our own family life, to the place where I pretty much let the dream of such a “support group” die…Being on our church’s Governing Board there was an exploration of the church getting involved in a ministry designed to train “lay counselors” to minister to other parishioners.  This plan also was abandoned by leadership.  Having a degree in Counseling I had hoped to head up such ministry training  but apparently that was not to be either.

So…by happenstance, while commenting on another WordPress blog/website called Special Needs Parenting, I clicked on the link to get a blog myself and “Special Connections” was given another chance at life.

Currently going through some pretty heavy stuff related to my own special needs son this blog is now intended first as an outlet, second as a repository, third as a resource, and fourth as an encouragement.  Since I have no idea if anyone else will ever read anything here it will serve as a kind of web-based journal (isn’t that practically the meaning of a Web Log AKA Blog?) and place to keep tabs on many of my eclectic interests.

Hopefully here’s some of what this Blog will eventually contain, God Willing:

Favorite Scriptures with present tense personal insights

Family dynamics, events, & perspectives

Family History & Genealogy

Special Needs Info & Processing

Advocacy Advice & Cautionary Tales

Links to above categories

Links to some favorite music and videos

Links to my personal Pinterest and Twitter pages

Links to my CarePages.com blog and that of my autistic son

Insights about medical, therapeutic, behavioral, interpersonal, & spiritual sides of disability

Culture Wars & Commentary with links to provocative web-based writings

Offbeat & Enjoyable topics, sites, and images, etc.

Occasional commentary on books, movies, music, and shows in my orbit…

Well, it’s more than past time to attempt to get some sleep so this will likely get “published” in an “as is” status and we’ll partake of my ubiquitous feet of clay.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit of the ride, Valerie