Wednesday, July 31, 2013

5 and 7 things

Yesterday was Beve's birthday. The day (and ONLY day!) on which he can say, "I'm two years older than you." He waited until about 20 minutes till midnight to say it yesterday, and made me smile. I hadn't quite realized how much I'd been waiting for it. Twenty minutes later, all was right with the world and he is once again merely ONE year older than me. So you can guess what today is.

Anyway, in honor of his birthday, his 57th, I thought I'd share a few things about him.
First, five things you might not know about my Beve:
(though I'm sure hope my kids do!)

  1. He's pidgeon-toed. Decidedly so. In high school, his pidgeon-toed run on the basketball court was something to behold. My dad always said he looked like he'd been put together with rubber bands, he was so elastic.
  2. His nickname was Slime because he sweats easily and a whole lot. And doesn't stink. Opponents would slide right off him on hoop courts. That he doesn't stink has been an 'annoyance' to me all the days of our lives. Can you imagine? Never needing deoderant? Amazing.
  3. He's left-handed. Writes all the way upside-down with the worst of them. I say this with love because I'm left handed myself. And his handwriting is almost illegible, growing more so with each passing year. Funny thing, though. When we first married, I couldn't figure out how he made his small a--starting from the bottom, circling backwards. These days, I make mine exactly the same way (it's easier for a lefty!). Marriage will do that to you.   
  4. He wasn't very mechanically-minded when we first got married but now he changes oil in all our cars, has built decks, a garage, remodeled a bathroom, painted and wall-papered just about every room in every house we've ever owned. He's an eager learner when it comes to such stuff.
  5. Just the other day I realized that most of the furnishings in our house (from furniture to dishes) are the result of Beve's thrifting. It's remarkable, really. I groan against such things, but deep-down, am glad he loves his 'craigslist devotionals,' as I teasingly call them.
Now, seven things I appreciate about Beve:
  1. He has a heart for the hurting. Beve is a counselor in a school where the main focus is AP (Advanced Placement). But for Beve, it's the hurting, the marginalized, the broken who most matter. He stands with them, goes to battle for them, and just plain loves them. I love that no matter how messed up a kid is, Beve can say, "He's really a pretty good kid," or  "I really like her."
  2. He sees every part of his life as ministry, without even thinking about it. Whether it's sitting in his office with kids, talking to a room full of other counselors, or mowing lawns, he's serving the Kingdom. He stops by to see his elderly lawn-care customers just because he cares about them, takes the time to listen to them when he serves them because he might be the only interaction they have each week.
  3. He's the good Samaritan. Sometimes he tells me about things he does for others, sometimes he doesn't. It's remarkable how much this man gives. He's the one who stops on the free-way and takes people to get gas (or gives them gas from his own gas-cans). More than once cards have arrived in the mail from complete strangers who have been helped by him and are awed by that help. 
  4. He's a committed friend. In this last year two of his closest friends in town were dealing with cancer. Beve was present and present and present for these men. Walking in the fire with them, so to speak. We've been invited to intimate family gatherings because Beve feels like family to folks who have other family (I'm like another in-law, I suppose). 
  5. He's a wonderful son and he's the son Grampie knows. The other day Grampie had wheeled himself very close to my chair so we could talk, and, as if often the case, he'd forgotten about Beve sitting across the room. Just seeing him from the corner of his eye, Grampie asked me, "Who's that?" "Who do you think?" I asked.  "A graduate?" I laughed. "Grampie, LOOK at him!" Grampie did, and, with a HUGE grin, said, "Why, that's my boy!" Yes, Beve is definitely Grampie's boy. All the way through. Enjoying these closing-in-on-midnight hours with him because they're sweet and good and he wouldn't miss them for anything!
  6. He's a great dad. He's soo committed to his children. He worries about them, thinks about them, makes them laugh, loves hanging out with them. They're his best thing, as he would have said years ago. In August, he'll drive SK down to the Bay area to help her start her new life there. He wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, there was NO WAY anyone else was going to drive HIS baby to California. It's what a dad does. He did it when E moved to Colorado for that season, and so he will again. Crowded car and all.
  7. He's God's best gift to me. After Himself, of course. I take Beve for granted, but he is. He does so much in my life. You can't imagine. More every day. I'm sometimes like a potted plant in my own life, and Beve just picks up the slack and does everything, without complaint that I'm just barely hanging in there. And with the heavy lifting he does in my life, he's also my best friend on whom I bounce every thought--silly or profound (and usually, I say, "does that make sense?" at the end of my lengthy paragraphs of thought--my brain isn't hurting, that's for sure!).  
Happy (one day late) Birthday, Beve. On my birthday, maybe it's the best day to acknowledge you, because you ARE the gift of God for me (the first thing I said in my wedding vow to you) and I'm grateful (again) God gave me such a treasure almost 30 years ago.
This was taken last summer in front of his old home in Pullman, Washington (right across the street from my old home) where he lived when we first met in 1966.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A few gift ideas

It's been a wild weekend. A July weekend. July. Ah, July. It's the month of our lives, you see. Three of our five birthdays huddle at the end of this month like we're basketball players at the end of close game. E's birthday was the 25th (Beve's is next, on the 30th and mine the day after on the 31st), so to celebrate E's most momentous of birthdays (besides her birth-day itself, of course!), we shuttled down (in more than one car, due to our very careful planning. Sigh!) to Seattle to help her celebrate. She got to show us her brand-new condo, one she's slowly and carefully making her own mark on, help her do a little shopping at Home Depot now that she has those big-girl home-owner pants belted firmly in place. Beve and the girls did some thrifting together (a gift E requested when she first decided to buy a condo), and we all helped her pick out the perfect (and perfectly comfortable) couch in both size and color. She's one happy grown-up, my oldest child. Yes, I said child. Even when I'm 87 and she's 60, she'll still be my child. That's just how it works.

Then, after dinner, my sister, RE and I drove back home. Having a day alone with my sister is quite a treat and we filled it from pilar to post.  And while we were sitting at the requisite afternoon tea (I'm chagrined that we neglected to take our friends there last week!!!), she asked this: If money, other obligations and health were no object, what would you do with the rest of your life?

It's the perfect question for those of us in our mid-fifties who are staring retirement in the face. Last week with our friends, retirement and the last decade or less of working came up a lot. But RE got to the heart of it. And my answer was quick and instinctive. I'd teach/preach and write. Study the word so I could share with the body of Christ. Do what I'm doing, in a sense, but in a larger context, with a more pronounced aim. I love teaching, and have felt blessed by the many opportunities He's given me to do so in retreats, churches, etc.

"I'd organize them for you," she told me. That's what she likes. Organizing such things. Feels blessed to do it. Called to it. Good at it.

We got to talking about humility then, and how often we pretend haven't been given the gifts we've been given because we think that's humility. But that's just stupidity. Beve gave me the watch I wear. I like this watch. It's pretty, functional and it pleases me as it works and aids my life. But for me to take credit for either its work or the gift would be ludicrous. All I do is wear it. Likewise with spiritual gifts. We wear them. We are the beneficiaries. First, of life, then Life in His Son, then in whatever He specifically gives each of us so that His bride is complete, so that His Kingdom comes. It isn't a matter of being proud to admit we know He's given us whatever gifts He's given us, but of given credit where it's due, of being honest about the fact that our abilities aren't self-generated.

So I think about the question RE posed this afternoon (and I'll probably be pondering it for quite a while), and I know He means me to be useful. Back when I was a green college student there an Amy Grant song with the lyrics, "

I know a man, maybe you know him, too.
You never can tell; he might even be you.
He knelt at the altar, and that was the end.
Hes saved, and thats all that matters to him.

His spiritual tummy, it cant take too much.
One day a week, he gets a spiritual lunch.
On sunday, he puts on his spiritual best,
And gives his language a spiritual rest.

Hes just a faaa...
Hes just a fat little baby!
Wa, wa, waaaaa....
He wants his bottle, and he dont mean maybe.
He sampled solid foods once or twice,
But he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice.
Ba, ba, ba, ba...ba, ba...ba, ba!

Hes been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood,
But his daily devotions are stuck in the mud.
He knows the books of the Bible and john 3:16.
Hes got the biggest king james youve ever seen!

Ive always wondered if hell grow up someday.
Hes mommas boy, and he likes it that way.
If you happen to see him, tell him I said,
Hell never grow, if he never gets fed.

Hes just a fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa-at, fat...
Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa-at, fat...
Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, faaaaat...
...baby...

The last think I want is to be a bloated believer, a person who gets so full that they never go anything but take it in. I think that after today, I'll look at this wrist watch and think of what gifts grace my life that help me tell the time of day to those around me. These gifts help His Kingdom come and His will be done in and through and because of me. Without such gifts I'd be late to His banquet, I know I would, because I'd be working too hard to get there on my own. And once I belly up to that table, I'd be so busy shoving my face in, I wouldn't see what He intends me to contribute to the great feast. Does this make sense? Because He always intends something. That's the point. I am who I am because He gave such gifts. And I am meant to contribute WITH them. They are meant to be used. Spiritual gifts are never nic-nacs, never merely decorative. They're always meant to be worn and used and wielded.

Let's not be obese believers, okay? Let's name our gifts, learn how He wants to use them, and be glad.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stretched

Yesterday at the physical therapist's office, I stared a medieval-turned-21st-century torture device squarely in the face. Or the rack, perhaps. I've been seeing a PT on a regular basis lately because the vertebrae in my neck are compressed to the point of needing surgery and I'd like to put that off for the foreseeable future--or forever!!!, if possible! I love my PT, who is a specialist in neck problems. She has compassion in her eyes and a gentle touch. She's been more informative about the problems in my spine than all the doctors I've seen in the last decade plus. And that's saying a whole lot. A whole, whole lot. So last week when she suggested that we try a little traction stretching on my neck, I was game. Even if it did sound like something out of the middle ages.

And when she pulled the device out of the bag, it wasn't too different from what I'd imagined, though it is cushioned and electronically operated, and intended to help, not torture me.  As I laid my head down on the head rest and allowed her to begin stretching my spine, I thought about the whole idea of stretching. At least for the few moments I could think. This is going to be a long process, not necessarily an easy one, so it wasn't simple for me to get outside myself to think about anything but the weight. The machine is measured by how much weight is pulled against one's spine. At 12 lbs, my PT said most people find it pleasant. "I wouldn't quite call this pleasant," I said. "More like pain." She adjusted it to 9 lbs. "Your spine really is sensitive to being stretched. We'll have to go more slowly." Finally it began to feel okay, and just as I started to tell her, I said, "But are there supposed to be sharp pains going down my left arm?" She stopped immediately.

So I can imagine how people must have felt to be strung out on those racks, unable to move or be released, unable to do anything about the increasing pain. Just hanging there. Being stretched beyond their powers of endurance because those who were stretching them were bent on torture not on healing, on destroying not on strengthening them.

One of the things people answer in response to the questions, "How are you doing?" or "What is God teaching you?" is "I'm being stretched." This answer covers so many things. When a person faces difficulties like the loss of a job, trouble with co-workers or bosses (ask Beve about this last year--boy, does he have a story to tell you!). It can apply to periods of grieving parents or pets.  Children grow up and stretch us as they leave one phase of life for the next. At least this has been the case in my life.

The stretching that was done to me yesterday was the best picture I've ever had of what God is really up to when He puts us in situations beyond what we think we can handle. We wouldn't choose the difficulties for ourselves but what comes from them--even if the momentary affliction is painful--is meant for our good. He only stretches to strengthen what is weak in us. He stretches us to make us grow up where we would/could not naturally grow up on our own.

I think of my brother who now works in Hydrobad, India. He just finished a job in Bratsk, Russia. That's Siberia, folks. From the frozen tundra to the teeming heat of India in a couple of months. Talk about being stretched. And this is a man who likes his creature comforts. In fact, if you'd asked just five years ago to name ten people in my own family who would live in either of these places, he wouldn't have made the list. But God has stretched him. Keeps on stretching him. And he's obedient to go. And I believe that such stretching--if he allows it to do its work--will make him someone he can't even imagine right now. Someone only God can imagine. Called and indwelt and used by God, because He's the one holding the rack, doing the stretching.

He stretches us.
And sometimes it hurts.
But He's always a compassionate God who has our best in mind,
and He NEVER stretches us beyond our power of endurance.
Thank Him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

An adventure with her name on it

I've been a real slacker about blogging lately. We've been so busy conversing, eating and just hanging with our friends that I've barely touched my computer in a week. It's been a sweet respite with these dear people, all friends of long-standing. First one couple, whom we reconnected with when, as a college student, E was in the church they pastored. They've moved to Texas now, but made our house a stop on their great NW journey. And we were glad to have them lay their heads here for a night. Glad to share old stories and new ones with them, to show them Bellingham Bay both from our front patio and up-close and personally as we walked along the lapping tide.  They're in the middle of a sea-change themselves, and it was an honor to listen to the story of how they've come to this moment, to see what God might be doing to prepare them for the next adventure with their names on it.

The rest of the week we hosted the two couples we see each summer, old friends who have now become indispensable friends. There's a rhythm to our time together. Each speaks of what the past year has been--materially, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally--and each speaks of what hopes and worries lie ahead. There's a transparency that comes only with the best of friends. Beve and I have found this with two other couples in the years of our marriage (and of course, I have it with my sisters!). It's true community. People should have it, I know instinctively. And I wonder why they don't die without it, just as they would die without water or air. That's what such friendship is like. I value such community in exactly the same way. If I could, I'd have all these couples--these two and the others Beve and I also SOOO need--live on a cul de sac with us so we could share life daily. Like it was the 1930s and we had to share food in order to make it stretch to feed us all.

 This brings me to SK. She's been living with us this last year. Young women (and men) often end up back at home after college, the economy being what it is and her degree not being the most marketable in the world (theater...but mine was English Lit. so I'm not pointing fingers!). She found a job, found a few friends, cobbled a life together. But it hasn't been the life of which she dreamed when she left home at 18. She loves Mama and Daddy but we aren't the community for which she longs. And she definitely longs for community. So she began praying. And I'm pretty sure her college roommate down in the San Francisco Bay area was also praying, because by the time SK came home from a visit to CJ in October, she told us she felt like she was supposed to move there.

SK has watched us move by faith more than once in the course of her life. She's watched us trust God to make the way when there seems to be no way, to open doors where the world sees only walls. She believed that about her own college--that one school was the right one, and no matter what the cost, God would provide. And He did. So here too, she stepped out. Began to plan. By the spring, she'd told her boss she'd work through July, then move, with or without a job waiting, live with CJ, and trust God. Yes, trust Him to be God.

But she didn't simply sit on the couch and wait for Him to do all the work while she watched TV. SK scoured the Bay area craigslist for jobs, sent out resumes, applied for all kinds of things. Lately she's had all kinds of nibbles. A couple of jobs fell througgh because she wasn't available for onsite interviews. Others didn't work out because skype-interviews are still a little out of the box. But she was flown down to an interview last week, for a job almost like the one she's doing now, at a location just five minutes away from where she'll be living. Is that God or what?

Today she accepted that job. Her living and working situation have fallen into place. More importantly, God confirmed that what SK believed to be His leading IS Him leading. It's an adventure with her name on it. He's out ahead of her, getting everything ready.

It does a Mama's heart good to see this, to know that she is faithful to Him and that He who is faithful has called her. I can hardly wait to see what shall come in this next season.

PS. Remind me to tell you of how faithful God has been to E as well. Buying a condo all on her own, having a professional life. Yep, our girls are being launched, and it's good.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A spot on a hill

Today begins a week of visitors at our house. A week of Koinonia, I should say. I'm talking the kind of fellowship that happens when people sit around and share a bit of bread and wine, hurts and joys, hopes and broken dreams. Yep, upper room stuff. Only in our case, we'll be sitting on our back deck or in our blow-up pool, watching the sunset from our front patio.

Last night as I was putting sheets on a bed on the west side of the house, I glanced out the window and caught a glimpse of that gorgeous pink-to-burgundy sunset and stopped a second. I take it for granted here. I live inside this house. I forget that every night, especially in the summer, there's a spectacular show right outside our front door. We have the privilege of living here. Our home isn't large; in fact, our children bemoan the larger home we sold to move into this one (okay, who am I kidding, I can bemoan it as well!). But we've been granted a spot on a hill, and we forget to pay attention.

Yes, we have a spot on a hill and we're too busy going about our lives to let everything else be seen through the lens of that hill. That view.

Golgotha. That's the real hill from which we view everything else. If you think about it, we look through the cross, through the Resurrection to view every relationship, and all of creation. It's like the world was in black and white until the cross. But we get to see it like the most magnificent sunset (or sunrise!) that has ever been. All the world's ablaze with color because of that moment and we have a spot on a hill to see it.

But we aren't just spectators, of course. We're living participants.  We live this life, ablaze with the color of what He did, what He does, what He will do in us. And we get to participate in what He does in the rest of the world. Yes, we have a spot on a hill--we're in the front row to His working.

But first, let's at least--at the very least!--pay attention.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Looking back at 'Language'

This evening I've been reading through old posts and came across this one from the summer of 2010. When I think of that summer, what comes first to mind is that we watched my mother fail and die in the dog-days of August. I have absolutely NO memory of the weather here at home, the conversation around dinner tables, or any other ordinary moments. I love that I have this blog reminder, this online-journal. It's all here--what I was thinking about as I lived those ordinary days before the surreal cut through, as it does whenever death comes knocking.

So here's a reflective moment from July 2010:
Just when we thought we were going to have to spend the rest of our lives saying, "Oh yeah, I remember the summer of 2010, I think it was a Thursday," the sun with all its magnificent heat finally decided to show up, rest its poor aching feet a bit in our neck of the woods.  Summer's been hanging around the rest of the northern hemisphere for almost a month.  Shoot, even Finland, where Beve's older brother lives, has been experiencing lovely, sweating heat of 27-28 (centigrade) for the last weeks or more.  But here, where, once it appears, there's no where else quite as beautiful as summer, we've had nothing but rain and cold.  March and the occasional February.  With a hint of May just so we don't lose hope completely.

Until yesterday when the sun came out, the wind blew away the clouds and the heat finally began to pound down on us. And it's wonderful. Even as we're moving from fan to fan to fan, it's lovely.  Beve and Uncle R, the Finn, have been sitting under the patio umbrella while E lays in the sun trying to get rid of her sock line.  Good luck to that, I say.  Because of the mowing fields, she and Beve have mower's tans, which they get even in semi-foul weather.  That's what we call them by the way: the mowing fields, as in 'We're off to the mowing fields,' or 'how go the mowing fields?' It's lawn-care lingo, I suppose, along with short-hand like, "the Fosters are at ten days today,' and 'We'll have to dump at Mercers' today.'  After all these years, I've come to speak lawn-care quite fluently, whether I ever wanted to or not.  'How many today?' I'll ask.  And we all know what I mean.

Every job has its language, though, doesn't it?  In my more than quarter-century with Beve, I've learned the language of coaches, counselors and teachers.  In his with me, he's learned a whole lot more about how to talk about writing and editing than he actually has any personal interest in.  We can speak theater with SK, and a little bit of history with J, and a few words of PR have filtered down from E (though they each are really over our heads in their respective areas of interest).

This is true for each person, isn't it?  We have our common language, and then we have our technical tongue, our professional words that we don't often share while sitting around the dinner table with our families.  My father, for instance, was a Mechanical Engineer, but I don't really remember him talking about engineering at our dinner table.  We spoke in our common language.  Or maybe I should say we spoke about the things that concerned the largest number of us, and that the largest number of us around the table could understand.  Certainly my father spoke to my brothers and sister about engineering--they who were inclined toward science and likely to follow in his footsteps.  But not around the table.  Rarely to me (though I do remember him explaining thermodynamics to me when my science teachers could not!). 

My point is that in the best of communities (and the best of families are the best of communities), conversation is broad enough to encompass most of the members.  Language is used that will pull the largest number of people in.  Not always the easiest language--I mean, we want our children, each other, to grow and expand--but language that makes us learn more.  The other evening, we all went to dinner with Grampie and Thyrza.  We were having a fine, rollicking time, a great conversation.  Yes, it was primarily about sports, but Uncle R is here from Finland, doesn't get to speak of American sports very often.  And almost everyone at that table was both interested in, and happy to contribute to the conversation about sports.  But suddenly, Thyrza loudly cut in. "Now I'm going to tell you about our world, Spring Creek (their retirement complex), and you're going to be interested." 

There was an instant silence around the table.  She certainly did tell us, and we certainly did listen, but it wasn't communal.  It was a lecture.  Something closed up in everyone at her command, and that was sad to me.  I know it isn't what she meant.  She simply wanted to be heard, cared about.  But commands don't do the job very well, you know?

I think that I must learn that Thyrza and Grampie (though he loves, loves, loves talking sports) must now be treated like the least in our company.  Like the youngest at the table, whom we must be careful to include.  It was natural with my children, but I must be retrained to make sure the conversation, indeed, the very language, includes them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Three quotes for the Sabbath

"The cross puts everything to the test."
Martin Luther

"Luther's theology of the cross offers a way of placing suffering within a larger framework. For Luther, the issue is not primarily how we can explain suffering--which is there, like it or not--but how we can cope with it, and can God use it to enable us to grow into stronger, better people?"  
Alister McGrath, The Passionate Intellect, 62.

"The supreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it." 
Simone Weil

Friday, July 12, 2013

What life would have been like


By the amazing coincidence that is God's hand at work, Beve and I surrendered our lives to Christ within three months of each other in the spring/summer of 1971. Yep, 71, back in the 'Jesus-people' days, for those of you who know what I'm talking about--when there were kids on street corners witnessing to everyone who passed by, who testified and testified and were sure they were living so close to the end times that they'd better get every last living one of us saved because all hell was about to break loose. Or all Heaven, I should say.  Beve and I had quieter conversion stories, at least more private ones, but what began that summer of 1971 changed everything and I have to go all the way back to before that to imagine any other life than this one.

This loving-Jesus one, I mean. Not always doing it well, not always making the right choices, not always even believing with my whole heart, but believing never-the-less. Sometimes doing exactly the opposite of how a 'Christ-one' might act, if that 'Christ-one' had actually stopped to ask Christ HOW to act before diving in and acting.
But here's the real question: what would my life have been like if He hadn't knocked on the door, if He hadn't hounded me, if I HADN'T surrendered myself that hot August day?  Who would I be now? I told Beve the other day that I think I'd be more petty, more whiney, more...more all kinds of things that make me shudder in remorse at the thought (and in remorse for how I am WITH Him).
Psalm 124 says, "If the Lord had not been on our said--let Israel say--if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive..." 
Read the whole Psalm (it's short, won't take but a moment) and you'll get a pretty graphic picture of what life is like without Him on our side. We're in the hands, the teeth, the whole territory of the enemy and our character, our behavior, our very souls would be twisted to ugliness just trying to survive on our own.

This Psalm gets right to the heart of the question of what might have become of us without Him. If the Lord had not been on our side through all the things that life throws at us, just imagine what we might be.
Likewise, if the Lord is not on the side of those we encounter, those we work and interact with, is it any wonder that they do not have the strength, peace, supernatural AID to empower them to be more than merely human? So they're angry, petty, easily offended. Of course they are.

When I think of life in light of these words--these beautiful words--it stops my grasping for more, my whining at my lot, my looking around at others. I am what I am because the LORD is on my side. How great is that? The only comparison I should ever, EVER make is to what my life would be like without Him.

And then I come back around to this Psalm and say in full voice, "Praise be to the Lord...Our Help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A few things...

Our washing machine broke. Yep, broke to bits. We were oh-so-proud of this washing machine when we bought it ten years ago this month. When we moved into this new old house, we finally bought the Cadillac of front loaders. And boy, have we loaded them up. Day after day, week after week, load after dirty, stinkin' load. Fixed the washed twice, listened to it rumble as it began its descent down broke-back mountain (yes, I'm using that wrong!) to where it crashed in a heap of 'it'll cost more to repair than to buy a new one.' That's where we found ourselves this week. THIS WEEK.

Right after we bought a new refrigerator. LAST week. Sigh. Can I just say this summer in which we aren't traveling is turning out to be pretty pricey already.

I have a boat-load of quilts to finish. An actual boatload. That is, enough to cover a whole crew of shrimpers. We decided to completely re-arrange our house so I actually have a picture of the whole pile. To wit:
I don't know if you see them clearly enough, but there are EIGHT quilts on my sewing table to be finished. And all those bins? They're projects waiting my attention. But this isn't an obsession. Really. I promise. (By the way, Beve told me last night he LOVES the color of this room, which makes me feel good, since it's my favorite color!)

We have piles of belongings and 'treasures' all over the house. E is about to move into her first (owned) home this weekend, so in honor of that, I've been destashing. Dividing up my treasures and giving them to my girls. (J told me, "NOT IT!" when I asked who wanted to play). I'm trying hard to reduce the amount of stuff we have. Beve said, "I don't care what you give them," and I took him at his word. It's crazy how large my stash has gotten. Why do I need so many glasses? All these crystal plates? Ridiculous. It's just stuff.

SK is being flown to the bay area for a job interview Monday. She says she feels like a real grown-up. I can hardly believe it myself. My baby is an adult, with real adult responsibilities and adult dreams. And she's really leaving in less than a month. Hopefully--God willing!!--with a job to confirm what she believes: that He goes before her in this great San Francisco Bay adventure.
But I will really miss this beautiful face (as will the Springer who loves to cuddle with her!).

We begin our summer visits next week. Some here, some there. It'll be a flurry. 
I hope we'll be ready. Beve and SK painted the living room over the weekend but Beve has a list a mile long of other things he wants to accomplish before our company arrives.

This happened, though. And we've had plenty of sunny days to enjoy it. It's exactly what the doctor ordered for me and my bum leg, neck and arm. Not to mention my spirit. Ah, the life-giving properties of water. Don't you think that is why God gave us baptism--because He knows how much we are restored, renewed, made new creatures in water? It's not science but common sense.

Filled up and ready to watch the sunset over Bellingham Bay. I'm telling you, it's cheap entertainment. 

SK, you sure you want to give this up?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Thinking about gospel praying

I read a very powerful post yesterday (though I think VERY is redundant when we're talking about Holy-Spirit power). So I asked my friend Susie if I could post a link to it here so you could read it yourselves. I have nothing to add but the AMEN I gave her. Just hit the link and it'll take you there. Thanks for thinking about praying as Jesus taught. See you tomorrow.

http://www.recoveringchurchlady.com

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A review of a review and an 'OH WOW' quote!

For the last dozen years, every other month appears in my mailbox a magazine so large it's folded in half to fit. It's not glossy, just many pages of rather heavy-weight paper stapled to bind it, usually with a provocative, artist's rendering of the theme on the cover. I wait for this periodical more than I wait for my bi-monthly quilting magazines, more than I waited for Sports Illustrated for the many years we subscribed to that (and I DID wait for SI--I love that magazine!!!).

It's Books and Culture, a Christian Review. This magazine reviews all sorts of new books (and some other kinds of media) from a decidedly-Christian perspective. Not only or even usually Christian books, but interesting works in varied genres about varied subjects. I'm always fascinated by the breadth of what is tackled, and have an always growing book list beside me as I read it.  The ads are all Christian books, conferences, colleges, etc, giving a wonderful, diverse window into what is happening around the Body.

Take this issue, for instance (July-August 2013). I learn that there's an academic conference at Wheaton College in September that will focus on Billy Graham and his legacy; a new book coming out with the compelling title of The Surprising Grace of Disappointment  by John Koessler (oh man, how I want to read this!); and a new CS Lewis biography called A Life Observed. And these are just the ads.

What I always read first in B & C is the note by the editor, John Wilson, called"Stranger in a Strange Land".
He personally about the subject of the issue. July/August's theme this year is called "Giant Lit. Section," which so whets my appetite I might not get to anything else in my life until I've read the whole issue. Wilson writes of Frederica Mathewes-Green who is writing her 14th review for the publication. As I read through Wilson's editorial I become determined to read more from this woman.

Then I come to his last FM-G quote and I'm hit in the gut. In my heart. IN my SOUL. For here, succinctly, are the words of MY heart. Yes, I say. Exactly.

"I want to be near God, not anywhere else. This doesn't make me any kind of woo-woo special holy person, quite the reverse. I am endlessly needy. I can't help what I want. I can't even explain it. Even my wanting him, I know, comes from him.
How strange this is. I've never seen God, so how can it be that he feels more real than anything I've ever known?"   Books and Culture, p. 7.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mama's prayer

I missed last month's journal link-up because I was off partying with my sisters in Southern California. We're quite the partiers, too.  High tea, a graduation, and a trip to the zoo. Yep, we're a wild and crazy bunch. Anyway, back at the ranch (-style house), it's now July 5th. We had an electric group of people here yesterday. Most were self-invited, which is the coolest thing because it means our ranch has a welcome sign on its forehead, a 'drop-on-in, we'll find you a chair" kind of home. This is exactly what Beve wanted in a home and he's created it, probably a whole lot more than I have.

ANYWAY, Random Journal Link-up is over at my blogging friend Susie's place today. After you read this (or before, if you'd like--but come on back afterwards), head over there with one click on the words Random Journal Link-up.

The blue notebook I pulled today is from the spring of 2006. Oddly, I could write practically the same words today, especially the first line:
March 18, Saturday
E leaves today. She might even say, "go home." She has a life there, more of a life than she ever really had here, except right in this house with us. We're important to her, but she's always ready to go, leaving a day early, looking more ahead than behind. I would wish it otherwise for myself. But not for her. I'm glad she's finding and following the path laid out FOR HER. Not one I might have dreamed up (I somehow expected science or math in her future!), but she's exactly where she should be. It's in her enthusiasm, her growing community, in her plans and decisions (which is organic to who God made her to be).
Of course I want more for her. For each of them [my kids]. I want E to seek Him wholeheartedly, to hunger for His word and lace every decision with prayer. I want her prone-to-serve life and being like Martha to have Mary moments, to sit at His feet for no other reason than to be with Him.

E's driving back to her life in Seattle this morning, where she loves her job, her community and is a week away from becoming a home-owner. And I can see how all her choices back in college have borne fruit. She's exactly where she should be. And I love that. But, of course, I'm her mother and myself, and I want more for her. So these words stand today.

And I could (and probably did) write similar words about SK, who will drive a full-to-the-gills 'Gladys' (her Subaru) down I-5 to the Bay area next month. She'll begin a new life, a city life, and she will thrive, this city-girl of ours.

My girls call me Mama. So the words of this entry, I think, are my 'Mama's prayer.'

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Don't you want to get well?

"Don't you want to get well?"
That was the question up for grabs, the one that had my son practically throwing his phone across the room.
When he told me about it this morning, ten hours after an old girlfriend had shoved it down his throat and strangled him with it, he was still shaking angry with her.

It isn't the first time my bi-polar I (rapid-cycling) son has been asked such a thing, but he never knows how to answer it. He can't answer no to such a question--that two-letter word spells sheer hopelessnesss. He'd die from it, he says. He knows he would. But to say yes, is an exercise in futility. What does well mean? he asks me. Healed? Cured?  "It takes someone with this to understand what it's like to live with it." He told me.

But I told him that that sentence is a wall between him and others, that he needs to find a way to help people understand who DON'T already know, even just a little, so they don't ask questions that have him throwing phones across the room, or bouncing off the walls.

"It's like cancer," he said. "You have to keep fighting it or you'll die."

"Ah," I said. "Actually, I think it's like diabetes."

"Yes!" he said. "That's it. That's exactly what it's like. You have to take your meds, learn to watch how you live, but you can live--and live well enough--being bi-polar."

He stopped pacing. "Like a diabetic watches carbs, I have to watch my triggers."
(We have lots of practice with diabetes, because Beve's sister had it, as does her son)

He went off to call his old girlfriend. Calm enough to explain what 'well' might mean. Not cured, but healthy with  what he has to live with.

It's a balancing act, living with this son.
But we're getting somewhere.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Living reluctantly in this age

I just spent ten minutes rounding up my electronic devices and their various cords so I could get them all charged. This is as much a "first world problem" any, I suppose, but as I was crawling under the end-table in the living room to grab my lap-top's cord in order to bring it to my bedroom, plug it in so I could write this post in front of a whirling fan, I began to chuckle. It's been blazing hot in our corner of the country. Hot enough that we have gathered our fans from the bowels of our cellar, where they gather dust most of the year and planted ourselves directly in front of them so we have half a chance of staying cool enough to be reasonable. We don't do well in the heat. We're cranky and irritable and tend to blame each other for all kinds of ridiculous piddly things, like, "Why didn't you water the geraniums in back when you watered the ones in front?" "Because I thought YOU were going to." Just like we were about seven years old and ready to tattle to our parents.

All that to say, that's why I was trying to retrieve my laptop cord from it's usual, hard-to-reach dwelling place. But I got it, then had to re-arrange my whole power strip so that every cord fit perfectly: cell-phone, Kindle, lap-top, bedside lamp and clock. Then I collapsed onto my bed in a heap and thought of how much more complicated life is now than it was when I was a teenager. I remember how much I wanted a record-player, and begging my parents for my own telephone extension in my bedroom. I was unsuccessful at getting either of these big-ticket items. They didn't want me tying up their phone line for hours on end. They bought me a little transistor radio, with a brown leather cover. I loved it. Was SO proud of it--even if it wasn't nearly as cool as my friends' phonographs. And get this--I didn't even have a clock by my bed until I was a senior in high school when my parents bought me my own bedside alarm clock. Wind-up. Until then, I was awakened each day (like the rest of my family) when my mother turned on the intercom and we heard HER choice of music floating through the house.

Yep, it's a whole different world. Now we can't go anywhere without all these gadgets and their accompanying cords. Without being connected every minute of the day. Sometimes I'm so nostalgic for those days I can almost weep for the true simplicity of it, for the ability to leave the house and know I'll be alone and unavailable for a while. To take a walk and not have to answer to anyone. I guess that's why I'm never very good at remembering my phone, or keeping my computer or Kindle charged. I just don't quite have a handle on how to live this way.

And it strikes me as slightly silly.
Beve and I sat in a restaurant last night and couldn't have a conversation because a woman sat alone at a table beside us talking loudly on her phone for most of our meal.  And today, I was in a bathroom stall and heard a woman talking. At first I figured she was talking to a child, but it became clear quickly enough that she was on her phone. AND, she simply walked out of the stall, out of the rest-room and kept talking--without stopping to wash her hands. Now THAT grosses me out. Totally.

So I plug in my stuff, resign myself to the time which I live, because once I stop my half-hearted chuckling at what this world is coming to, I open my computer, check facebook, my email inbox, then begin writing this blog post.

The truth is, I love that it's possible to be instantly connected. I just don't want to always HAVE to be.

So, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll turn this off for a few hours.

But maybe I'll just check out a few more things before I do. Apparently, E has an article that's trending at the moment. Gotta check that out. Don't I?