Sunday, October 16, 2011

Once Upon a Time....

Once upon a time my Dad and Mom yearned for a better life for themselves and their children.  They dreamt of land and trees and creeks, of a place where they could step outside their door and shoot their winter's meat.  They dreamt of country roads, alpine peaks and fields white with snow.  They dreamt of a simple country life while steeped in traffic, bills and endless ferry boat commuting.

When I was little, my family lived on Vashon Island, in Puget Sound.  My Dad had been born and raised there (learning to hunt on the then sparsely populated island) and my Mom's family had moved there when she was a teenager so that they could have a pasture for her horse.  Years went by and the Island became a sought after bedroom community for the ever-expanding metropolis that is Seattle.  As shopping centers replaced strawberry fields and mansions dominated the once accessible shoreline, my parents began dreaming of mountain streams and wild woods.

Their dream, although lovely, was really impossible.  My folks were deeply entrenched in the American Dream - two kids, a house, two well-paying jobs and a hefty load of debt.  They couldn't possibly chase after a simple country life when there were bills to be paid and a lifestyle to be maintained - or could they?

After seven years of searching for their slice of heaven they came across a little tract of land in the American Redoubt.  It was 25 acres of mixed timber and meadow, with two year around creeks that intersected, forming the southern boundary.  An artesian spring bubbled out of a hillside and state and forest service land hemmed the property in from the rear.  This was the moment of truth.  Would my parents stay in their less than full-filling but "safe" life, or would they step out in faith and change their life and the lives of their children?

For my Mom and Dad, there wasn't really a choice.  They knew that God was calling them to the country and so they answered.  Throwing off conventional wisdom, my Dad left his well-paying teaching job (he had previously been an iron worker, building many of the skyscrapers in downtown Seattle) and my Mom vacated her job as a nursing home administrator.  They sold their house, paid off all of their debts, paid cash for their new land, packed all of their worldly possessions into a four horse trailer and boldly set off for their new life.  They had no house to move into.  They knew no people.  The had no job to provide for their family or even the prospect of employment.

My folks spent the summer trying to get our new situation livable for the winter.  They hand dug the artesian spring, lined it with cedar and put in a pump.  They dug lines for the water pipes, had a septic tank installed and eventually found an older single-wide mobile to serve as our home.  We stacked straw bales around the bottom of the trailer to act as insulation (never thinking that they would attract hordes of rodents) and cut wood by the cord-full.  We fenced 25 acres to provide a pasture for our horses and graveled the existing driveway.

Summer gave way to fall.  The temperature began to drop and so did my parents savings account.  Knowing that he couldn't provide for his family sitting at home, my Dad started looking for a job.  He knew, with his vast experience and skill set, that he would have no problem securing full time employment.  After all, he could do anything.  He could weld, mechanic, drive anything with wheels.  He had been an iron worker, a teacher - he was a jack of all trades.  Day after day, Dad job searched in vain.  He hadn't taken into consideration that when moving way out into the country, in a particularly depressed part of Idaho, jobs were few and far between.  Finally, after almost a month of searching, he landed a job.  It wasn't much - in fact, it was terrible.  My Dad went to work for a local saw mill sweeping wood chips during night shift.  Really.  Night after night, my Dad would grab a push broom and start walking.  It was dirty, nasty, spiteful work and he hated every minute of it.  But, it was a job.  He went to work everyday.  He was always on time.  He didn't complain.  He didn't bellyache.  He didn't miss a day.  He pushed that broom and he provided for his family.  Never once did he say "I'm worth more than this - this is below me".

One day, another job came along.  It wasn't much.  The work was harder and the hours longer, but the pay was better.  He became know in the community as a hard worker, someone you could count on.  Soon, other job opportunities presented themselves.  Little by little, my Dad became a trusted part of our community.  He was well thought of and known to be a man of integrity.  The longer we lived in our chosen part of the country, the more my dad became known for his humility and hard work, and more doors opened for him.  Not only did my Dad hold a fine job, he also started his own business, which ran successfully until he sold it.

My parents chased their version of the American Dream.  The road was rocky, the work was hard and the days were long - but they succeeded.  Through hard work and sacrifice, they secured a future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.  They suffered, they went without and they did jobs that nobody wants to do - but they also learned, they loved and they grew in faith.  Through their tribulations, they taught my brother and I that anything worth having is worth working (and waiting) for.  They taught us that hard work pays off and that we are responsible for making our own way in life.  They taught us to walk through difficulties and not try to get around them and that happiness comes from taking responsibility.  They taught us that self-worth comes from who you are not what you do.

And now, we are being told that there is no longer an American Dream.  Protesters are littering our streets demanding a bigger piece of the pie, but they want it given to them.  They want the dream but they don't want to have to suffer for it.  They will tell you that they would rather collect unemployment than work at a job that is "below" them.  They will say that they are "worth" more than that.  Says who?  They are "worth" what someone is willing to pay them.  Besides, their worth doesn't come from their paycheck - their worth comes from Christ alone.

I am not foolish enough to believe that there is not greed in this world.  I know there is evil.  Our country is being led by people hell-bent on padding their own pockets at the expense of you and I.  But, in the end, I am still responsible for me and you are still responsible for you.  And that is as it should be.  Only when we are responsible for ourselves will true progress be made. You and I still live in a great country and we can still follow our dreams.  But only if we are willing to suffer and to do the hard things.

We have become used to a standard of living that is untenable.  Our appetite for more and more and more has become unchecked and we have now sold our souls to the devil.  We are at a point in time when we are willing to steal from our neighbors rather than support ourselves.  We would rather steal than work.  What have we become?

To all of my readers who do the hard things, who suffer yet hold their heads high - thank you.  You are my heroes.  You are the real Americans this country so desperately needs.    Lets spend our time making our families, and in turn our nation, a better place, rather than bellyaching about our "lot" in life.  Lets direct our own lives instead of reducing ourselves to nothing more than victims.  Lets change "Once Upon a Time...." to "This is how Americans do Things".


  1. If only more people could see it like that! Most are so wrapped up in living for "things" and just going about life. They let daycare and schools raise their kids, they allow freedoms to be eroded in the name of safety... I tried hard to raise my kids to understand that their character was more important than what they HAVE, some learned, some ignored it. Instant everything is the lure today, it's wrong. When it's "instant", there is no sense of ownership, no pride in wrking for it. It's just plain sad.

  2. Beautifully said, Enola. If we can change our families - bring them back to earth instead of having their heads in the clouds - we can change our country. It really does start at home.

    NoCal Gal

  3. I had a custom house built in a semi-run down older working class neighborhood next to a run down trailer park complete with three meth labs.
    In the years since a new house was built near mine, then another, and another and now a nice retired military couple are building a house accross the street from my house. Only one meth lab remains in my neighborhood and the trailer park has sold to new owners that cleaned it up and ran the riff raff out.
    I've been through drive by shootings in my nieghborhood, fights, thefts, arson, drug dealing, you name it. (Thank God no murders)
    My house has remained untouched except for one drive by BB gun shooting that hit a window (I really wish I could have returned fire with my M1A)
    Lesson learned, Stand your ground and work hard for what you have and what you can achieve.
    I have new neighbors that are helping me run off the bad guys. We have a welder, carpenter, auto mechanic, two Gulf War vets, three Viet Nam vets and a 80 year old Cowboy who sits on his porch at night sometimes with a shotgun.
    Since my neighborhood has been cleaned up and new houses built my property value has gone up $20.000 (evan in this crummy real estate market).

  4. Lovely post...I am ashamed of these folks who think that they deserve something because they are breathing.

    I like your view. The America where we see the real Americans that uphold the values of integrity, hard work, honor, and appreciation of family that is before us if we get past the media, the politicians and the hand up folks(you know the type, hands up for anything free).


  5. Enola thanks for sharing just a beautiful story. I linked to my blog.

  6. Thank you for saying, we your readers are your heroes! You, likewise, are our hero! To all of us who believe we should say what we mean and mean what we say, who think there's no such thing as a free lunch, we are the people who care and will always work to better our lives, our familie's lives and America!
    MaryB in GA

  7. Well said, Enola Gay! You are wonderful, and it because of people like your parents and you that there is still hope in the great country of America. We believe in the same work ethic and law of the harvest. Keep up the good work.

  8. such a fine post enola...thankyou!

  9. Wonderful, wonderful post! Thank you!

  10. Beautifully written - I was completely entranced by your parents story.

    I agree - less belly aching, and more getting on with the job (of life). That is applicable to not only America, but the whole world!

  11. Very well said. The true Americans are the hard working, nose to the grind stone, not complaining people like you and your parents and SO many others. Thank you for writing such a heartfelt article.

  12. Great article-there is no instant anything wort h having-a lousy job, if nothing else, is a paycheck,a stepping stone to something better. One overlooked benefit of a lousy job is that it makes everything else look better(and it gives you time to think-most bad jobs really don't require much mental voltage)! Having a goal is very important, otherwise it's like running a engine on a test stand-it really isn't doing anything but making noise.
    I'm in the midst of correcting a mistake-of letting myself get talked into moving into a urban area because it was "convenient"-every time I let myself get talked into something, it's all downhill from there...which is why it's difficult to talk me into things now(a big complaint with some of my family).

  13. I guess I will be the dissenting voice. The people are protesting over more than wanting their fair share. Many are protesting because they are sick of the lies and garbage being handed to all of us by crony capitalism, and a fascist regime. What we have today is not free market capitalism. That is long gone. And you want to know something really funny, I am a staunch conservative, support their cause. I have participated in the movement, and no, I do not feel as if everyone owes me. My husband and I have worked for everything that we have, and will continue to do so.

  14. My father taught me at a young age , to work hard, don't get into debt and that there is no thing as a " free lunch". Mt Dad has gone home to the Lord, but I thank him and people Like you and Patrice Lewis for your writing to teach other generations that this is the only way to hold up your head and be proud of what you have accomplished , not dwelling on what others may have that you don't... if you want something, WORK FOR IT !

    Dee, Southeastern Arizona

  15. @Anonymous 2:24pm, please research the origins and the meaning of the term "useful idiot" and then try to determine if that might be what's going on with the Occupy Wall Street protestors.

    If you want the short version, you can find the info on Wiki.

  16. Enola,
    I summate that in my whole of life, so far, there have been few and far between the years in the way of material "gifts", that I have received.
    I was always busy being "the giver". Still am to some extent. But, I also know the grave consequences of enabling a person's drive, that comes with gifting to someone who possesses absolutely no ability to work toward any useful goal.

    There have been rare times when I worked at 3 different jobs in my younger years. One job paid the college tuition of my siblings.
    Irony is I paid my own way through 8 years of university's and attended classes on my Off days, and never borrowed or had student loans to pay off when I graduated.

    How is it that today's young adults feel that their education is a responsibility of the government? They want a free higher education.
    They expect a job waiting for them when they get that degree.
    What some of these "Occupy Protesters" are saying that they want is a socialist, paid for by the taxpayers, educational system with a government paid placement job upon graduation.

    We are losing our ability as a nation of citizens to know accomplishment of self-fulfillment and personal actualization by actually sacrificing something smaller to earning something greater! True self PROGRESS.

    They had best be careful for what they ask for.
    They just might become the next Fascist Work Force.


  17. My grandfather served our country during WWII and lived in the South during segregation. He worked every day of his life, never took a dime from anyone. He built his own house with his own hands and worked as a garbage man and farmer to support his family. At his funeral, countless people came up and spoke about his generosity (he gave food to peoeple who needed it) and compassion. I am a woman of color and I grew up being told that you had to EARN your way in life and there are no free lunches. You don't get a gold sticker for going to work or a pat on the back for taking care of your responsibilities. I am totally disgusted with the entitlement mindset pervasive in this country. It's INSULTING to me to hear people whine about their lot in life. Do you have laws that prevent you from going to college or learning a trade? Do you have laws preventing you from getting married to the person of your choice? Are you free to come and go as you please? Then what are you crying about?!! GET A JOB. You want something? Work for it. If it's not enough or you want more WORK HARDER. I've been to Russia, and trust me, people are LEAVING because socialism does not work. Let's end this nanny state and get back to the work ethic that BUILT this country.

  18. And now, we are being told that there is no longer an American Dream. Protesters are littering our streets demanding a bigger piece of the pie, but they want it given to them. They want the dream but they don't want to have to suffer for it. They will tell you that they would rather collect unemployment than work at a job that is "below" them. They will say that they are "worth" more than that. Says who? They are "worth" what someone is willing to pay them. Besides, their worth doesn't come from their paycheck - their worth comes from Christ alone.

    that's simply not true, enola. none of the protestors are demanding work that isn't beneath them, they just want work. and they want the wealthy to pay their fair share, too. go to read the stories. the people there are hard working and humble- and drowning. they work 40, 70, 120 hours a week and can't make ends meet, and that's if they can even find work. there are 15,000,000 unemployed people and 5,000,000 jobs. no matter how hard anyone tries, that's 10,000,000 people for whom there is no work.

    ows wants fairness. it isn't right that GE paid less in taxes than you last year. it isn't right that Bank of America can layoff workers and cut salaries and benefits while posting record profits and giving its CEO millions in yearly bonuses. that is not christian, that is not democracy, that is not capitalism, it is greed, nothing more.