Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birthday Beve!

Whoa, two posts in short order after a long drought!

But I can't let today go by without 'bearing witness' to the date.
Today is my Beve's birthday. 
My funny, thoughtful, responsible, ever-giving, always engaging, Eagle Scout, man of integrity, humble-spirited Beve is 58. 58? Seriously? His beautiful dark brown curly hair has become beautiful silver, but his smile is still as bright. His eyes twinkle every bit as brightly when he teases our adult children as he did when he lifted them over his head when they were small and adorable (and dressed up for a church directory photo!).

So a few pictures from our trip in honor of the man I fell in love with and grow more in love with every year of our lives.

 A flat tire and dinner at a sidewalk cafe in Oakland with SK and her roomie!

Breakfast with SK and E. Vacation Beve has definitely arrived!

Old friends are the best friends? Beve with his oldest friends on top of the hill and all of them in the Redwoods!.

At Bogota Bay (where the movie, "The Birds" was filmed)
 Celebrating E's Birthday our last night in Berkeley.
Happy Birthday, Beve.

Choosing LIFE

So where were we?
Clear back in early July when I last wrote, my life was 'crazy-busy,' (as my kids like to say).
I remember one summer when our children were small when we were home only long enough to do laundry, change what kind of clothes we had in our suitcases before heading out on the next adventure. That summer we went from a Mission trip in Alaska to a Children's Choir tour in Southern California, a family vacation in Palm Springs(complete with a day in Tijuana, Mexico), home to wash clothes and attend a family reunion in Oregon, then off to Alberta, Canada for a basketball camp. We finally slept in our own beds just in time to round up school supplies and get the children out the door for the first day.

But I wouldn't change that summer for anything because what we experienced together.
The things God taught me.
Yes, me.

You wouldn't think I'd have had time for much of anything during a time as busy as that. My children were 11, 9 and 7 that summer. Those are busy ages. And I was responsible for larger groups than just our own family that year: the mission team in Alaska, the Choir tour in southern California. Somehow those were on my shoulders. But they weren't really on my shoulders, they were on mine and God's. That was one thing I learned. I learned that when I tried to take control of things alone, I could make a huge muck of things. When I gave those same things over to Him, there might also be mucks (we do live on a fallen planet, after all) but the muck didn't bother me. Didn't make me feel worried or guilty. He'd show me the way through. Give me the words to lead others through. Pull back the waters, so to speak.

And in the end, while we were at the basketball camp that demanded all of Beve's attention, gave our children plenty of playmates and allowed me unexpected hours to read, pray and contemplate, God gave me a picture for my--even our family's--future. I look back on those two weeks in Olds, Alberta with joy and something like longing because He met me so fully.

Fast forward to this summer, this wild and woolly summer. Right in the middle of this summer, it's good for me to rehearse what God taught me years ago. It's always good to do such things--the Psalms teaches us the value of re-telling our past and HIS faithfulness as a foundation of our present circumstances. So what about this present summer?

There has been a lot of out-go this summer, a lot of pouring out. And there's also been a lot of sharpening, a lot of suffering, I think. There's been pain FOR other people, pain BY other people, pain IN my own physical body.  (Okay, there's been in-come, too, particularly in the last week. Let me be clear about that, but these words still come when they bear with me)

Yesterday morning I woke up with the given thought (I say given, because there was such a strong sense that HE gave it to me!), "The safest place you'll ever be is in the womb. Only there is there no pain or suffering." Once born, pain comes. However, only born, only when we're breathing OUTSIDE the womb is there opportunity to meet, know and love Him. We cannot stay in the womb. We were made for our own lives. Yes, with birth comes pain (as God told Eve), but with birth also come LIFE in all its glorious possibilities.

And with re-birth comes pain at times, too. but with it comes the greatest joy of all, the joy of know Christ Jesus. So there really is no choice. The womb, though safe, is finite. A whisper. A moment. Who wants that kind of safety? We are meant for life and life again. There is no life without suffering.  The only question is how we will respond to that suffering.

So today I choose life. With JOY. No matter what it brings. Life with pain in it, because it's Life with HIM in it. I would love to also choose it for those around me who also suffer, but I cannot. It is theirs to choose. It's this easy---
As Joshua challenged the Israelites (Deuteronomy 29: 19-20), "See, I set today life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, that you and your children shall life and that you may love the Lord you God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life..."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Between trips

July is a crazy month for us this year. I'm home for a few days respite (ie, wash clothes, get some rest, play with dogs, get a hair-cut) before leaving again for another 10 days. By the time I'm back, Most of the month will be gone, and I will have written less here than any time since I started this blog six years ago.

That's also because a whole lot of hard work has been done in the last ten days, a lot of hard emotional work. It's the kind of work that does not bear talking about. Even one such as myself who bears her soul with ease and regularity draws the line somewhere. And there are times.

And this is the time.
So I sit quietly in my house where fans blow and dogs sleep and the hot summer sun does its best to penetrate the carefully drawn blinds, and I wait and listen for God to bring clarity and wisdom.

Then Beve and I will pack our car, head down the freeway to meet friends who can counsel and pray and rest with us.

We aren't alone in having this kind of summer.
All around us are those with heavy hearts.
Yes, everywhere we turn there are hearts to match the heavy heat so uncommon here in the Northwest (so uncommon few of us have air-conditioning).

I don't know what this is about, but I do know to whom to turn.
So I sit.
And look forward to the next trip. The fellowship, the counsel, the prayers.
The sharing of burdens on every side.
And yes, the laughter, too.

If you don't hear from me until the end of the month, now you understand why.
Until August, Maranatha.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Family 4th

Glimpses of a family party:
Sitting around,
volleyball (both competitive and 
open to all comers!)
walking to the bluff
and the beach, 
to pose for
a family portrait
See how well we work together?
Yep, we're a compliant bunch.
Always talking over each other,
trying to tell each other what to do.
But somehow
it works.
Those of you 
who are reading this
who know this place, 
who bear our name,
we missed you.
Next year.
Same time,
Same place.
Those of you who don't,
I pray your holiday was as festive,
as full of life,
yes, just as REAL
as ours was.
It was real. 
There were real life moments.
Highs and lows and in between. 
But I wouldn't change them.
It was a family 4th of July.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whidbey for the 4th

In a few moments, Beve will get home from an eye doctor appointment, then we'll load the car to the gills to drive to the family cabin. We're all being called to the closest thing my extended family has to a home-place to celebrate the 80th birthday of my favorite uncle. Actually, calling him 'favorite' is easy because he's the only uncle my siblings and I have ever known well. He's another victim of dementia now but all the cousins and his four kids (23 of us all together, and that's just in my generation). He was the one who made things work around our family property. If he didn't have the right piece of board, he'd pile all the kids in the carry-all and run down to the local lumber yard to find it. He's piled up more tools around the place than most hardware stores and concocted more ingenuous ways of helping a large number of people fit into what is a large property but a very small cabin (11 acres and only 3 rooms). Spinning towel racks, hooks that move, bathroom/shower stalls with communal sink areas, three tier bunks, etc. Of course we spent most of our hours outside, and he spent most of HIS weekdays in the city working for Boeing, but when he was at the cabin, he was always working, always making sure things worked smoothly so we could be kids.

These days, he mostly follows his wife around. Tries to help. He isn't always successful. But his brain still wants to solve problems like the brilliant chemist he always was. So as many of us as can will party with him for the next four days.

And we'll enjoy the place that is our home-place, too. We'll crowd together in the kitchen, dishing out food and quips in equal share. We'll gather around the campfire, roasting marshmellows and each other. We'll tease each other when one of us gets too pompous, when another is too silly, just to put each other in his or her place. My cousins, siblings, our children (at least those who are grown) and I have a rhythm. We know each other, and we find it most at our cabin on the wide meadow, surrounded by the arching trees. We're protected from the rest of the world there. In fact, the world slips away when we're at Whidbey.

It's the best kind of 4th of July--Whidbey 4ths. Maybe we'll even put on a play.
I'd like to see that. A play, just like the old days, when we we kids and our uncle/dad was still busy making things run the way they should at the home-place.

Happy 4th. See you next week...