Sunday, September 27, 2015

The beauty of stress

That's a strange title, isn't it?
The beauty of stress. We don't think about stress as being beautiful very often. Last year, when our life was measured out in adult diapers and "Butt Cream" (yes, there is such a thing), I didn't look into the mirror and think, "Wow, you're looking more and more beautiful, woman." I saw more lines, more gray hairs, more that measured tiredness, worry and "We're in over our heads!"

We always think that stress is NOT a pretty thing. And that it's not good for us. It'd downright dangerous to us.

This isn't a post to tell you otherwise. Not in the long run, I mean. Stress is deadly. Too much stress is dangerous to health. Right

I took this picture this morning from right in front of our little lodge on the Cascade River. The sun was so bright on the water, and even the turning needles and leaves had a glowing hue to them. It was a wonderful moment, a moment that only comes in autumn when such things happen.
But if you look closely, and if you know your trees, you'll notice that there's actually something wrong with the beauty of this moment.

These are cedar trees. Cedar trees are evergreen. EVER-GREEN. They aren't EVER supposed to look this way. But up in the North Cascades this year, all the cedars have begun to look this way, to one extent or another. It's beautiful from a distance. I won't pretend otherwise. It looks as beautiful as every other tree does as it loses its leaves (or needles, as the larch does). But it's all wrong. The mighty, luscious-smelling cedars, in all their glorious orange array, reveal better than any other plant just how bad the drought has been in our woods. They are stressed to the point of doing what all deciduous trees do--they're going to shed their needles. 
Hopefully, that's all they'll do. 
The strongest of them will come back. The big, strong, queens of the forest will return to stand beside King Doug (the Douglas Fir is CLEARLY the king of our woods here). But the more spindly ones, the tall teenagers? What about them? What about this tree in my photo that stands beyond our deck as sentinel over the river? There's more orange on it than green now. Is this its glorious dying moment?

I hope not.

And here's the other thing, the ironically sad other thing: right below the reach of the roots of this orange-needled cedar is that Cascade river. You know, that ice-cold, clear mountain river NEVER stopped flowing fast and deep all summer long? Sure, it dropped a bit, but it was always too deep and fast for anyone to mess around with. Too fast for us to let our water-magnet puppy get near without a leash, for example. Maica could be swept away for good in the river that runs outside our cabin, no doubt about it. 
There is water near our cedars...just not near enough.

All this makes me think about the trees, the drought (even though it rained plenty up there this weekend, HALLELUJAH!!!) and all the changes that are happening to our earth. 

And it also makes me think about stress and me. 
Do I bear my stress with beauty? Do I let it color me with bright orange (which IS my favorite color)? Or do I simply let it overwhelm me, weary and even crush me? Might I have to shed a few needles--or pieces of myself in the surviving of the stresses of my life? Not jettisoning the stress, but jettisoning of myself. That's a different thing.

These are questions I have to ask because I can't pretend to live a stress-free life. Some people talk about getting rid of stress. I think stress might be part of the human condition. So it's MORE about how our roots handle stress. That's it, of course. Do we have deep roots in the one who feeds our souls with living water and gives life to our souls? When the stress comes, we are able to withstand because we're strong enough, sturdy enough and deep enough. IN HIM. Not on our own, but in Him.
OUR river runs through us. That's the glorious difference between dying from stress and living with it. We who are in Christ have streams of living water running through us.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Going up the river

I have approximately ten minutes to write this blog post.
Why I waited until I only had ten minutes left in this afternoon, I surely don't know.
It sounds like something Beve would do.
Whoops, don't tell him I said that.

We're on our way up to the Lodge for the weekend.
It's my annual "Sisters" weekend with those two women who shared parents with me. Bathtubs, and dresses dolls and crayons. And along the way we became friends. Now we have yearly 'sister' weekends. This year, Beve is taking me up to the Lodge where they'll join me tomorrow morning.
We invited our dear aunt to come this year as well.
Our aunt has recently reclaimed her life after being care-taker for her husband for many years. She made the difficult decision to place him in a group home in June because the care became too arduous. He has dementia, you see.
Yes, again dementia has struck in my family. My aunt and I have commiserated a great deal over the last several years. And her care for her husband has been spectacular. However, it was wearing her out. She wasn't sleeping because HE wasn't sleeping, and she had to watch his every move.

The last time I talked her her, even her voice sounded younger.
When I asked if she wanted to come up to our lodge with us, she was thrilled. She has her own cabin, of course, our beloved Whidbey Island cabin. But she loves rivers, and happy to have us include her.

So off we go.
Beve's chomping at the bit.

See you Monday. Until then, enjoy our lovely river view.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Haunted Conversations

My life is made up of quiet days. In the last week, with this pesky sprained ankle, I've been even less mobile than usual. I'm used to this. I'm used to this rhythm of not hearing my own voice for hours at a time (except when I'm talking to the dogs). And I'm okay with my quiet life. I'm content in it. I like it.

But even in this quiet life, even in this extra quiet week in this quiet life, I'm awed--yes, that's the word--with the kind of conversations that come when I'm not looking. I had a couple of conversations this week that have held my attention long after the echoes left the room. A person I've known for many years finally opened up about marriage, about her faith, her hopes, her trust in God within that marriage. It was a down and dirty conversation, without artifice or the kind of phrases I'm used to in conversations with this person. I felt privileged to listen to this person, to be present to the processing with them of some difficult things. They were sweet hours we spent together. Holy hours. The decision this person has come to isn't the popular decision in our culture, but it's definitely a godly one. Prayed over, cried over, worshiped over, and lived out in faith. I am awed by this. Impressed. It's haunted me as a Christ-haunted kind of conversation. He was present in it, and I know--I KNOW--He's in the faithfulness of this friend.

Today another friend stopped by. This is a man Beve and I have been having frequent Sunday afternoon conversations with for the last 3 years. Three years It's hard to believe it's been so long. Three years ago this month, his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor and told she only had months to live. She has lived three years. There was a honeymoon stage of about 14 months when she able to move fairly well, but since then, it's been hard. Just plain hard living. So our friend comes over for conversation. We are the safe place where he can be completely honest about how hard it is to be the care-giver, to be living out the "in sickness" part of the marriage vows. He tells us of the worst moments, the things he doesn't want to tell his kids: the way he's done in by 7 pm, the middle of the night trying to lift her, moods and moods that shift on a dime, the disintegration of all that makes her her, the way he feels ambivalent at times about her life and feels terrible that he feels  ambivalent.  She's a mere shadow of herself now. She has a single working limb, only a spattering of coherent language, but the strongest of wills that she's always had. He lets it all out in our kitchen while we drink tea because none of us drinks anything stronger. Our hearts ache together. He tells us he used to imagine--when this started--all the people who had it worse, but he can't remember them anymore. We tell him we love him, that we learn from him, that we are better at loving each other because how he loves his wife.

In a way, these Sunday conversations are also God-haunted. This man is not a person who shares our faith. I am always--ALWAYS!!--conscious of all the people I learn from who do know share my faith. I don't have a corner on the market on how to love. I don't pretend to. This man, this beautifully grieving, loving man teaches me. And I learn. I recognize that our moments together are sacred. He feels it too. He gets a babysitter for his wife now so he can have these conversations. He needs them that much. We always ask him what we can do for him as he's leaving and he tells us, "This. This is what you can do. This what I need from you." Bearing each others' burdens is not merely for those IN the church, it's for all who are grieving, hurting.

So in my quiet life, I feel honored that there are these conversations.
Help me be awake to notice them.
Are there sacred conversations in your life? Do you know what I mean by God-haunted? He's behind every word, behind the words, and the silences.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A bird in the house

A bird flew into our house today, straight in through the back door as if it was following Kincade who'd just come in from the back yard. Don't ask me what kind of bird it was, I'm no birder. It was small, not large and black like a crow, no red-breast like a robin, and wasn't a blue jay either. And it was too pretty to be a starling. I almost wondered if if was someone's pet that had gotten loose, with its pretty coloring. 
It flew through the kitchen around our dining table, into that window then made a loop into the living room where I was reading, right into our large picture window, which faces west. When it hit glass, it flew into the north picture window, then, then the north east picture window, then back. Around and around, until it finally landed between my houseplants and the window to the north.
This wasn't our first bird-in-the-house incident. 
For those of you who don't know, we once lived with these two large labs. Jackson's in back. He was the alpha male half-lab, half-white German Shepherd who graced us with his presence for about twelve years. Jemima's the pure-bred yellow lab sitting in front. She was my Beanie. Back in the days of these two 100lb labs, a bird had the misfortune of taking a left turn into our house. These two innocent-looking pups might have been napping a moment before, but they became pure bird-dog in half a flash. It was instant chaos. Barking, flapping, panic. And I flew myself, trying to shoo the bird out the sliding door before the dogs could catch it. In the days of these pooches, we saw many flights across our yard as they chased birds up trees, squirrels across fences. We were even brought an occasional 'treat' by them. They were so proud.

Today, however, was NOT that day.
And these are NOT those dogs (this picture was taken when Kincade was still a pup, which is why his head isn't dwarfing Maica's). Yes, the bird this time escaped unharmed, but it was NEVER in any danger from these dogs. When Maica, the Springer, noticed the bird, she instantly leapt into my lap and sat quivering, afraid for her life. She'd have climbed onto my head if she could have. Kincade, on the other hand, thought a new friend had come to play. He bounced up and began following the flight of the bird, his tail wagging. It was like watching him chase his tail (which he's also been known to do). He didn't make a single sound or act like he was interested in hunting the bird, he was simply curious. When the bird settled on the window sill, Kincade stuck his head between a couple of potted plants and stared. I'd called J to come help release the bird from captivity. When he walked into the room, he said, "Where's the bird?" 
"Look at Kincade," I told him. Our big galoot was completely still but for a wagging tail.
Come to think of it, he was working pretty hard being a good bird dog, doing his darnedest to keep an eye on it without letting it get away. 
Maica, on the other hand, complete fail being a hunting dog. She'd be terrified.

It's interesting to think of their nature, though. I always learn so much. The timid, the tender, the tough and the strong. Those are our dogs. 
But that's also what I learn about myself when I'm faced with unexpected experiences. How do I react? Do I become the alpha dog, creating panic in my wake, stirring up frenzy? Do I climb into a corner in fear? Or am I curious? Do I follow where the experience leads me? Am I open to what flies through my door? To what GOD brings into my life?
How do you react when new things come?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Books and Libraries

Okay, so I might have stayed up a little late last night.
I had a book to finish.
These things happen.
You know how it goes.
You readers, I mean.
Those of you who aren't readers, who aren't night people? I don't know what it's like to live in your world. I don't know what it's like to nod off at 8pm or fall instantly to sleep, or be able to shut off your brain like shutting off a light or the bathroom faucet.
And I don't know what it's like to spring out of bed when my eyes first begin to flicker. I don't know what it's like to not have to claw my way out of sleep like I've been in a deep, dark cave for the last several hours, covered with rocks and dirt. I don't know what it's like to feel like life is as bright as the morning sun and so am I.
Don't talk to me in the morning.
But if you want a conversation, I'll have it with you at midnight.

And if there's a good book that needs finishing, a book with only a hundred more pages to it, I'll set my mind and eyes to it without a problem...except that once the book is finally finished, it's likely I'm still living among the people within its pages well after I closed it and turned off my light. This is what happened last night. 2 am rolled past and there I was rolling around, too. 4:30 am happened by and I noticed Beve get up (too early a start even for him today), and I was still dwelling in that other land. Finally I drifted off.
I got about 4 hours sleep.

And that's just not enough.
For anyone.
So here I am, my own tired, ugly self, wondering why I do this.
Wondering why books are such magnets to me.
But also wondering why other people DON'T read.
Yes, I wonder that.

I grew up reading. My mother was a reader. She took us weekly to the library. We came home with piles of books that we each finished in that week. And it seems like we were always looking for an errant library book that one of us had read at night and let slip beside our beds for a couple weeks. this pattern was repeated with my own children. Yes, weekly. From before they could read thenselves we went to the library (I mean, I had to read, after all) where they picked out picture books and chapter books for me to read to them at night before bed. And though we had a specific basket where we kept all library books, we were always looking for errant library books: under beds, behind couches, in their closets, places they could have left them, and places it seemed impossible that books could have been left at all. Too often I had to pay little fines, just like my mother had before me. But I have never begrudged libraries of their fines.

In fact, I believe that Libraries may be the best free thing we get in the United States. Yes, we pay for them with our taxes. But on a weekly basis, on a 'this is how it seems' basis, the public library is at the top of my list of my favorite, free things.

So it keeps me from sleeping now and then?
It's worth it.

But today, I also think it'll be the cause of me needing a nap.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Call me Clutz

So I got a little dizzy Saturday. That isn't to say I am a dizzy-headed person by any means. And I'm not going to cast aspersions on people with certain hued hair. I know plenty of blondes who are so smart they could think circles around you and me and the rest of the world. We use stereotypes too often, I think. I use them myself, I admit.

Nevertheless, I got so dizzy, in the actual room-spinning way, that I had to lie down for an hour or three, close my eyes and hope everything settled back to where it was supposed to be when I opened them again.
And what do you know, by the time I opened my green/gray/blue/who-knows-what color-they'll-be-today eyes, the closet, the window, the dresser and bed had all taken up residence in their sedentary locations, exactly I expected them to be. Phew. So I got up, walked a little, still felt okay, if not quite perfect, and thought I'd go get our mail.
How I wish I could take back that thought. I wished it about ten seconds after I opened our back door, actually. That's when one leg (my bad left one) mis-judged, and the other skipped a step completely and I ended up in a heap on the floor of our carport, with a badly sprained right right ankle. I sat there a moment, trying to gauge whether I could possibly pot any weight on it, decided against it, and called out to our friend who was (thankfully) sitting in the room just inside the back door. He helped me up and half carried me to the couch where I sat until further notice.

In fact, I might still be sitting there if not for two things: Beve's strong arms (for ablutions, etc) and his determination that he  get the crutches from the basement (always handy to have a spare pair of crutches around, don't you think?) and, secondly, my sudden memory that I still had the boot from when I broke this same foot a couple of years ago. So yesterday I crawled around on my hands and knees through my closet until I found that boot, and now am mobile again. Tada!

Who needs to go to a doctor when you have every bit of equipment necessary in your own home?
Just kidding, sort of! Seriously, though, because Beve is an athlete, he has seen more than his fair share of sprains, so he could tell it WAS a sprain and NOT a break, and knew exactly what to do for it (ice, meds, elevation, repeat). It's a lovely color, if you like dark purple, lovely size, if you like puffiness,and I only wish I had a better story.

But here's the thing I've been thinking about:
Once again, my body betrays me. This won't be the last time. Wasn't the first. Some folks I know (and love, even in my own family) shake their heads when they hear the latest calamity to befall me. "It's always something with you," they say with a chuckle. And I suppose to them it is rather amusing. But to me it isn't a laughing matter. To me, my broken-ness is where God meets me. It isn't easy and sometimes it's a deep, hard struggle. However, I am convinced that I wouldn't be who I, that's not the way to put it: HE wouldn't be who HE is in me, if my body wasn't weak, if there wasn't a certain clutziness and definite brokenness to this shell in which He has to dwell. I have hope in Him, lean on Him in direct proportion perhaps to my on inability to lean on my own self. And that's a grace I am grateful for. I've said it before, By faith I say, I wouldn't have it any other way. Honestly, sometimes it's a struggle to say these words but I do say them and mean them with all the hope that is in me. All the hope that is IN HIM.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A friend's story

An old friend's been visiting this week. I've known this man since elementary school. He was a student in one of the first 4th grade classes my mother taught when she went back to teaching. I was also in 4th grade that year, at a school across town from where Mom taught, but I was well aware of her students. I'd helped prepare their classroom, spent many weekend days in their empty room, and often looked at their names on the bulletin and chalk boards. In the spring, Mom put on the play Tom Sawyer, and I was in the audience as my future friends and graduating classmates performed. Yes, I knew them. A couple of years later, all four elementary schools were herded into one middle school, and our odyssey together began in earnest.

So this man who is visiting wasn't quite a friend in elementary school. He wasn't even quite a friend in middle school when we were crammed together with 200 of our classmates. I knew who he was, I'm sure he knew my name as well. It wasn't until high school that we became friends. This week we were trying to determine just when we began to be friends and we couldn't really name a particular moment. Junior year, maybe?

But we were friends. And he was friends with Beve as well. We all went to Young Life, Campaigners, all kinds of Bible studies and activities. He was  (still is) a kind-hearted, sweet man, who laughs easily, cares greatly about people, and wants to be liked. Loves to be in on the action. He's a gentleman. He was raised by his mother to be so, and he has it down to an art. Yes, he's a courtly gentleman, my friend is.

About midway through college, this friend married. He was the very first of our large circle to marry and it came as something of a surprise to most--if not all--of us. I'd been living away from home for a year, so had missed this relationship building, but so had most people, apparently.

That's all back-story.

Or sideways story.
Or something.
This man has been a faithful follower of Jesus for a long time. He worked hard at his walk, wanted desperately to be the man he believed he was supposed to be.

The man the church told him he had to be.

Yes, I said that.

I've been trying to figure out how to write this story, how to tell it without slathering it with the love I have for this man. I mean, I have loved him for so long, have KNOWN him for so long. Really known...
that even when he finally had to leave his marriage (or was forced to) in the bitterest of ways, due to his own actions, which he's repented of again and again, I loved him. Even when he admitted to himself once and for all--in front of God and everyone--who he is, who he's always been, I loved him.

No, let's call it what it is, he came out of the closet.
My friend is gay.
That's what he admitted.
And the church he'd been attending for years, the church in front of which he repented and confessed and asked for prayer, shunned him. What happened to him in our hometown became a public tragedy. I'm not telling you anything the newspaper didn't report at the time. It was awful. Just plain awful. I don't have a recipe for how the church should react but I know it wasn't that. It must start and end with love. And definitely not cause Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome as it did in my friend, who is the most earnest of men.

He asked me the other day what I believe about him being homosexual, I told him there was no way he'd chosen it. I personally have never seen anyone try harder NOT to choose it. His sexuality, which had been as plain to all of us who knew him way-back-when, was the last thing he would have chosen. To be ostracized, tormented from without and within, to feel worthless and wrong just for being, to want to die because he couldn't control his feelings no matter how often he prayed? Who would choose this? And, to be honest, my mother knew he was gay when he was in 4th grade. No, his sexual orientation is part of his DNA.

I don't believe sexuality is wrong.
The end.
We are born a certain way.
We cannot do anything about that.
However, promiscuity is wrong.
There's a huge difference between sexuality and promiscuity. I am heterosexual, but my being so neither governs my every thought, nor allows me any liberty. I am not free to have indiscriminate sex.
Nor is anyone else. My friend, who is closer to Christ right now than he's ever been (and it's a holy, beautiful story!), lives a celibate life. He could say exactly the same statement I just said about his own sexuality. We have much in common, my old friend and I, though he took a very circuitous route to get here. A long, hard, sometimes excruciatingly painful route of his own making. He owns his sins along the way. He owns the failures he made that cost him his marriage, and damaged other relationships.
But this I know, my friend is redeemed and loved and my brother. In God's eyes, he is in exactly the same position I am in. Loved and saved by the amazing Grace of Jesus Christ.

He's told Beve and me this week that this is the best season of his life. He is free and whole and full.

What more could we want for anyone?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Not a Natural

It's Random Journal Link-Up Day. Because I took a personal leave from the blogisphere, I missed the last one (and maybe the one before that). So I reached far to the left on my shelf of journals this time, farther back into my history with journals, and came up with representative one, I think.

My life was very different in those days. I had a 4, 6, and 8 year old and I was busy! Crazy busy. Beve had just had an ACL reconstruction, we were youth group leaders, and Beve and I were teaching summer school together. And discovered a few things I've jettisoned from my mind in the two decades since.

"All the 'stuff' I face each day just empties into each day another load. Another load of laundry, another load in the dishwasher, another load of food to eat, and toys to be put away, another load of discipline. It's hard to get fired up for any of it. Beve gets up each morning and asks, "What do you have planned for the day?" PLANNED? The day is planned before me before I've lifted my head from the pillow. I'd like to burrow in and do nothing, I think. Instead, I have to react to whatever awaits me outside my door. Whatever "He hit me," or "She's being mean," or whatever else they have to offer and ask and need. All the thoughts and half-formed images of my own are too deep for even conscious contemplation. Much is asked of us, but not much is given to the space my mind needs. 
"What shall we have for dinner?" is his next question. And I want to throw a pillow at him because I can't think of dinner while I have toast and Cherrios and and snacks and Top Ramen and more snacks and whatever else comes along to deal with. Dinner? It's beyond the cliff of the next several hours. Let me fall off.
That's it. The real cliff, I mean.
I think this is the edge of depression. Truly. It feels like life is too much work. "But you, Oh Lord, have searched me and know me!" He knows me and that should make a difference. But I'm afraid it doesn't. He may know me but does anyone on earth? And does it matter? Those around me see a funny, outgoing, cheerful optimist...but inside I'm on a cliff.

It was hard being an at-home mom. I wasn't a natural. I remember that. I wasn't a natural with small children. I remember that. But it's a revelation to discover all this.
The encouraging thing is that we've lived beyond it. My children survived and even flourished beyond it. They grew into teenagers and I adore teenagers. Then they grew into these amazing adults that I get to be in a new kind of relationship with. And all the things that used to make me feel empty about my day, now has the rhythm to it.
That's what happens in time. In moving with God in chronology. Children grow up, they outgrow all kinds of things, and we survive them. We endure even what we aren't sure we will.
Just this morning I was thinking about James 1:2 that I memorized in the JB Phillips translation back when I was a teenager:
"When all kinds of trials and temptations come your way, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends."

Now, check out Dawn's blog, to read some other great journal entries here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thunder Shirt

The weather turned on a dime last week. Just as we were going about our summer days, finally enjoying life on the back deck, the wind changed and the rains blew in. Blew in with trees down and power outages and all kinds of inconveniences in our 21st century world. Our lawn, which hasn't seen water in months, is the color of...well, dung, if you want to know the truth, has become a mud slick when our pups try to race across it to catch balls on the fly. And don't get me started on what they drag into the house. Or how I went from shorts and sleeveless shirts to bundling under blankets all in a single day.

Apparently I can write an entire post about weather. Yesterday afternoon while I was trying to put together a wedding quilt that should have been finished in August, it started to thunder. THUNDER. Now I don't know if thunder means anything in your neck of the world, but in my house, it means that a medium-sized black and white creature will try to climb on someone's head after the first BOOM! My lap was the only one in the house yesterday. She didn't care that I had a foot on a sewing machine pedal. Or that my hand was  keeping fabric straight under a sewing machine needle. She simply heard that sound (before I did, I might mention), her feet came clattering down the hall and her head was bumping up into my lap. Causing all kinds of havoc to my sewing.

There's no pushing Maica away when she's that frantic.
Especially when the next round of thunder came hard on the heels of her landing in my lap.
No, the only thing to do was put aside my sewing, grab her tightly around the middle, where she was quivering and shaking. I just held on like I was a human Thunder Shirt.
(For those of you who know, we bought her a Thunder Shirt a few years ago, but because she has a cracked bone in her shoulder, she can't wear it without pain. I recently gave it to a good home).

Maica trembled but closed her eyes. I settled for the long haul of holding her for the duration of the pelting rain. It came down in sheets for a while.

Holding her through the storm. Not taking away cause of her fear, but holding her tightly in it. I can't tell Maica there's nothing to be afraid of. She can't understand me. I can only hold her. That's how this life works. It's how it works as a pet owner. It's how it worked as a parent, too. There were times when my children couldn't understand why they were afraid. They were too young. They simply needed to be held.

I'm like that too. Aren't you?
We're told not to be afraid. But to tell you the truth, sometimes I do feel fear. Sometimes what I need most is to simple be held. And I think He does that. in many and varied ways. Conversations with people who say words of comfort they didn't know we needed. The touch of a friend who simply 'gets' what I'm going through. And sometimes it's simply 'being' with another. I guess what I'm saying is that I've often experienced person being a Thunder Shirt for me. And a time or two, I've had the privilege of being a Thunder Shirt myself. What a cool thing that is. To be the Comforter. To hold and keep holding in the storm, until the trembling stops and the breathing calms. Not saying much, just being the shirt.

 There is thunder in life. Storms beyond our understanding. How will you be the Thunder Shirt for your neighbor?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Seek His Face

The world is small these days.
I love that.
Yesterday morning I was awakened by 11 Facebook messages racing across three continents between my daughters and my niece. I was grumpy late-comer to that party. But whole conversations going on between Finland, Kenya and the northwest corner of the lower United States.
A few minutes ago I said good night to my daughter, who was yawning so wide I felt yawns coming on from this side of the computer screen. I could gladly Skype with her for much longer, but while I'm at noon here in Washington State, she's inching toward midnight on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, so I told her to go to sleep. Still her Mama from the far side of the world.

SK has been a teacher for three whole days now. She's been a resident of Kenya for a month. She told me tonight that the living cross-culturally is easy for her compared to teaching. Just last week she was handed elementary music classes to teach along with her high school choir and strings responsibilities. She doesn't know how long she'll feel overwhelmed by all of it but hopes it won't be the whole year. It won't, I told her. She'll find her rhythm. But in another sense, the feeling out of her depth? That's evidence that's she's exactly where she's meant to be. I've always been amazed at the amazing things that God has done when I've felt out of my depth.
As she would say, #amiright?

But my real point is that we live in a small world. And I'm grateful for it. I'm grateful that I don't have to wait the countless weeks for an airmail to cross a continent, an ocean and another continent (if it flies west) before getting to me from her. I'm grateful that I can see her face when I talk to her. When Beve lived overseas in 1982, his parents didn't have that luxury. His older brother never moved back 'home' again. I try to imagine that as a mother. Letting a child go, knowing our relationship will be based on infrequent, inadequate epistles.

It's hard enough. But maybe I look back and imagine the difficulty of that communication because I know how much better we have it today. Who knows? Maybe that's what my children will say about how WE communicate.

I was thinking after SK hung up about what it would be like to Skype with God. What it would be like to have that instant, face-to-face communication with Him. Now don't go all, "But we already have that" on me. I know that. If we are His, we are always a syllable away from conversation with Him. That's up to us. But I was imagining the ability to SEE Him. To gaze into the throne room of heaven and seek His face for a moment. To say...

But then I started to chuckle.
I would love that.
I dream of that.
But I'd never be able to hang up.
I wouldn't be able to stop staring at His face.
To simply see His face...why, I probably wouldn't be able to speak at all.

This is what life is about, however.
Life ON this earth, I mean. Life without the ability to Skype with God.
We're meant to seek His face.
Here and now.
Wherever we find it.
In whoever's face we see Him.
We are to seek Him in the mirror and in the face of our enemy.
In our neighbors and in the disenfranchised.
In our beloveds and in those we struggle to love.

Seek His face.

My heart says of You, "Seek His face!"
Your face, Lord, will I seek." Psalm 27:8