“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”
My brother-in-law calls me “Smiley” and a nickname is a sign of affection, right? He must have some love for me deep down in that big heart of his.
I’m guessing he calls me “Smiley” because my default expression has always been a smile, and cheerful is my default attitude. He could have called me “happy-go-lucky” or “air-head”!
I spent my first twenty or so years with that childlike disposition and view of the world. That’s not an entirely bad thing; I had no worries about the present or the future. I was oblivious, though—living day-to-day, with no vision for how I wanted my life to go. Perhaps that is why I changed majors four or five times?
Thankfully I found a man with a vision and strong convictions. It just took my hard head a while to recognize the vision and accept it as my own.
I was stubborn with a smile
Independence seems to be a trait of every Kate—especially the ranch-raised Kates. For me it also came from being raised by a single mom who had been raised by a single mom. My paternal grandmother had also been raised by a single mom when her dad walked out and never returned. Both grandmas were tough and independent.
High Desert Girls
Between the two of them, I can brag that “my grandma” packed a gun on her hip, loved the high desert, was raised by a bootlegger, shot trophy bucks into her seventies, socialized with Gregory Peck and dignitaries, modeled on a runway, went to Sierra Leone with the Peace Corp in her sixties, raised a hundred pullets every year, camped, homeless, with her kids for four months out of the year, smoked into her nineties, ate loads of real butter, stole a Christmas tree from her town rival, and raised eight kids.
I’ll only endorse some of that, like the real butter—but you can see that I come from a long line of interesting, independent women.
Running wild in the sagebrush
So, before my heart-change, while My Man was off working, I thrived in my “happy-go-lucky” independence. I took our growing son outside, exploring and running wild, as often as I could, without a care in the world. Like I said, I was childlike. But God’s transforming, active love was at work in me and I started to change my focus. Wisdom was popping up at every turn.
I knew I needed to be more intentional as a wife and mother—loving and respecting My Man and keeping his best interests in mind. One of those best interests was to correctly raise and train our son. Our son was now a toddler and needed more discipline and direction. Running wild and reading books came naturally to me—discipline did not.
Lovey-dovey feelings are okay, but an “active love” will think of our child’s future.
I know a sad example of too much passive love: a woman “loved” her son so much that she never wanted him to do anything dangerous, vocationally or otherwise. He grew up incapable of hard work and has never been able to support himself. That tragedy is all too common these days.
This verse addresses a common parenting issue and is a great example of the active love I spoke of in my last post:
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24
If we love our children we will guide and discipline them. Boundaries and guidance make a child feel secure and will actually sharpen their intelligence. Discipline says “I love you and I care about your future”.
A vision of faith, hard work and adventure
I began to let My Man’s vision for our family sink into that hard head of mine. We would diligently teach God’s Word to our son, we would keep the hardworking-Hiller tradition and adventure would be a priority. Lord willing, these things would define our family and bring the promise of a bright future.
How can we be sure of a bright future?
A bright, eternal future is only a promise for those who are looking beyond the “seen” into the “unseen” things of our Maker:
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
The work of Jesus on the cross gives all believers a citizenship in heaven and a sure future. The other elements of our vision, hard work and adventure, held promise as well. Hard work is good for the soul and brings earthly reward. If we survived our adventures, the memories would keep us well supplied with stories and smiles.
I trusted in my husband’s vision but it brought new challenges. I needed to be intentional in training our son, not pass on my lazy ways, and then face the uncertainties that come with adventure. Feelings of fear and inadequacy crept in—this was all new territory for me and the enemy wanted to cripple me.
I prayerfully looked ahead to the promised future and took one step at a time.
Will there be sagebrush?
It isn’t too hard for My Man to entice me on an adventure if there is sagebrush involved. Sagebrush and solitude are usually a pair and I enjoy both. The roots of that obsession may go back to the many days I slowly bumped down desert roads with my dad while he checked fences and cattle. We either rode in contented quiet or with the cheerful voice of Paul Harvey.
One bumpy desert trip our young family took during that time wasn’t quiet, but it was fun. We drove with My Man’s old pickup through High Rock Canyon, Nevada. It was a thrill with the sagebrush scraping the sides of the pickup for quite a distance. The smell of sagebrush filled the cab—glorious! We only had one flat tire on those back roads and made it safely all the way to the Winnemuca area to visit his friends.
Make use of that wall tent
It was time to air out the wall tent again and make use of it. Especially since there was still snow on the ground.
“Sagebrush, desert? Ok.” I weakly nodded my head and jumped in, praying through the fears. We were headed to the Denio area of Nevada, an area my dad used to keep his cattle. The isolation and hidden treasures of the area have always fascinated me, and I even included the area in my book. My Man’s always adventurous aunt and uncle agreed to join us with their two kids.
Wintry Desert Warmth
My daring husband and his uncle decided to drive over the very steep Fandango Pass on the way to Denio from Alturas. Fandango Pass is part of the Lassen-Applegate Trail and is listed as one of America’s dangerous roads. This was the old route taken through a gap in the Warner Mountains that has been mostly abandoned in favor of Cedar Pass. There are now thankfully switchbacks on the nearly two miles of 1,600 foot ascent; the wagon trains of the past did not have that advantage. It takes your breath away to see the steep terrain those wagons navigated, or tried to navigate!
The uncle had his pickup with a camper and we had My Man’s brand new Toyota loaded down with the wall tent and stove. It was touch and go for a while and I remember one turnaround. It was winter conditions, after all! Finally reaching Surprise Valley and the Nevada desert beyond, we were rewarded with an ocean of sagebrush and an abundance of wildlife.
Can you hear my happy sigh? Failing in my navigational skills, as usual, I mostly stared out the window with a smile.
My most vivid memory of that trip, aside from our harrowing ascent, was the blizzard we endured in the wall tent. The wood stove was not sufficient in those gusty conditions so, in order to stay warm, we had to set up a small tent in the center of the big one. The three of us, and the dog, cuddled up in the small tent. During the night the blizzard nearly collapsed the big tent and My Man had to brave the weather to reinforce it.
The winds and troubles may rage outside but His Words, “Peace, be still”, offer an inner calm—a shelter. He is also saying:
“Worry and wind, be still.”
Harrowing adventures? Raising kids the hard way—with intention? Saying “yes” to My Man? Real butter? I am thankful.
I like to think that my stubborn smile has been redirected. God’s wisdom has given me a future to smile at and I’ll stubbornly boast of Him as long as I have breath.
He offers that smiley future to all.