Monday, December 31, 2012

Slán go fóill

No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen
the friendship of those who are thoroughly
persuaded of each other's worth. 
~Robert Southey

If we knew that today would be our last how might we spend it?  What sage words might flow from tongue or pen?  What intentional act(s) would we craft?   Who might we seek out for one long, last hug?  Where might we go, or not go?   

These are the tenor of my thoughts today, and for many of the days & months leading here.

Rest assured:  I'm full of robust health with nary a notion of vacating my mortality any time soon - God willing.  But today is the last day I will make the blogosphere a regular stop in my daily or weekly route.  It's time to shift gears, change chapters, move along, take a break and otherwise disengage.  The Aborigines call this a walkabout.   

What's ahead?

I don't know.
What I do know is that I am not leaving YOU.  You will remain in my thoughts & prayers.  I will occasionally drop by for a dose of delight or wisdom. 

The fact is:   You've altered my world.  Some of you have become lifelong friends ... people like Judy, Debbie, Sonja, Elaine, Beth, Luther, Lisa, Mary.  Yet others of you have filled my world with warmth, wit & charm - Rosel, Noreen, Karen, Father David, Linda, Robin, Susan, Jen, Janet, Ray, Denise, Patrina, Beth2, Rebecca, Maryanne, Shirley, Melanie, Peggy, Renee, Bren, Lea, Nancy, Andrea. 

“The next best thing to being wise oneself
is to live in a circle of those who are.”
~ C.S. Lewis

Most (if not all) of us will spend eternity together, so parting need not be sorrowful ~ sweet or otherwise.  Forever is such a long, long, long time. 

This I also know:  2013 will be a year of refreshing; a year of renewing, reviving, reinvigorating & replenishing.  I'm counting on it. 

How blessed am I that I went from being no one, to being Know One; and to have been granted the great blessing of faith, family & friendships.  What more is there? 

But one who looks intently at the perfect law,
the law of liberty, and abides by it,
not having become a forgetful hearer
but an effectual doer,
this man shall be blessed in what he does. 
~ James 1:25


Slán go fóill
(Gaelic for: "Goodbye for now.")

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Forward Momentum

There's a lot to think about and even more to do before putting a wrap to 2012.   While I relish the ramping up of all things Christmas, I'm not a huge fan of the ramping down, primarily because there's a bushel of bling to dismantle.  In its wake is an even larger bushel of blah.

Make no mistake, though:  I have no intention of entering 2013 with the blahs. 

I ran across the following piece in Forbes Magazine.  It might as well have been lifted from the pages of Scripture, so succint & wise is its content ~ which is why I'm sharing it here.  Practical wisdom is always a rare commodity.

5 Simple Things To Do Before The Year Ends
  1. Stop it! Schedule some time to look back on 2012 and ask yourself: What did I do that I shouldn’t do next year? Most of the time you’re better off thinking about things you should stop doing, rather than trying to add new habits into your routine. For example, is checking your email inbox the first thing you do in the morning instead of doing something far more productive? Then “not checking email until 11 a.m.” would be a great goal. In other words, stop doing things that are slowing you down rather than trying to do new things to speed things up. To improve, you have to release the e-brake first!
  2. Stick to one resolution at a time. Don’t cave in to the urge to create a laundry list of things you want to improve about yourself, your business or your life. Stick to one resolution at a time; that’s it. Then, review where you’re at every 30 days. If after 30 days or more you’ve stuck to your guns consistently and are on your way to achieving your resolution, feel free to try to stop or add another habit. But never make more than one resolution concurrently. Not even on New Year’s Eve!
  3. Think small. Resolutions often fail because they’re not broken down into small enough steps. As an example, how are you going to run your first marathon if you don’t first set a goal of running your first mile? Avoid making this mistake by breaking down each of your new goals into as many small goals as possible. Ideally, you should have daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals, which can keep you on track and will allow you to consistently assess your progress. Don’t just set an annual goal and keep your fingers crossed that you’ll somehow achieve it.
  4. End with the beginning in mind. If you’re not already ending each day and week by planning out the next one, this is a change you can immediately make that will have a huge impact on your productivity and peace of mind. By ending your day with the planning of the next, you’ll prevent your mind from racing at night, allowing your brain to adequately prepare for what tomorrow holds. You’ll wake up the next day fresher and with a clearer sense of purpose, and will achieve far more than if you’d just awoken with a calendar that looked like a blank slate.
  5. Be grateful.  ... By focusing on things for which we’re grateful, we ... have made a habit of starting our days by focusing on the things that make us feel happy, alive and vibrant. This allows us to be more resilient, positive and productive throughout the day, and furthermore, creates a more enjoyable work environment. How is your team planning for a productive, healthy New Year?
The aspect or the article that captured my attention is #4:  End with the beginning in mind.  I'm not at all inclined toward New Year's resolutions, but I wholeheartedly subscribe to the business discipline of annual Inventory initiatives.  Taking stock is good for the bottom line AND for the soul.

With that, let me just say that I will probably vacate the blogosphere in 2013.  As much as I have enjoyed the venue and your sweet, swelling presence these past five years, it is (as you know) a time-consuming, sometimes tedious, often distracting mixed blessing.  Some days it feels like one un-ending effort at Senior High School Year-Book signing. 

Besides, I'm sensing the nearing of a new horizon and new directions; all of which I probably won't consider seriously unless & until I make way & room for them.

At least one more post remains as I sort, box/package & put a wrap to the endings.  Where oh where will I store all of it if not the heart?

New beginnings. Six days remain in the process of this year's ending as I consider them ... 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Be Born In Me (& Update)

Yesterday I spent the better part of my day at the hospital's Critical Care unit.  A young family known, but not directly related to me are sitting vigil by their 18 year old son's side. 

Due to complications with the pregnancy some 19 years ago, Drew was born with myriad disabilities.  Blind & deaf, mentally challenged ... he's lived in a world that is, largely, of his own design.  His mother (who's photo you'll find adjacent to the word devotion in any dictionary) has scrapped & fought for him all his life, making certain he's been given the benefit of an education & nurture in a culture that finds him to be an oddity.  He is a treasure in, and to their family.  Big brother Dillon, 20, considers him to be a hero.      

Last Friday Drew had one of many Grand Mal seizures; this one while bathing.  Typically he's allowed to bath alone for 5 - 8 minutes at a time.  On Friday, that duration combined with the seizure caused him to drown in his own vomit & bath water.  Upon discovery, CPR was started at once and paramedics summoned.  He was resuscitated, but prospects looked grim.

The vigil began.

While I was there with Drew's parents, Craig & Nancy (his father is my daughter-in-law's cousin), the Neurosurgeon came by.  She - the lady doctor - read & pondered, answered questions; answered more questions, and then summoned a deep breath to give Drew's parents a medical opinion no parent wants to hear:  Drew is probably already brain dead, but I won't know with certainty until we can remove him from all meds and then perform an indepth physical & EEG."  That process of removal & exams will begin today or tomorrow.

I wanted to leave the room in the worst way, though I had been tucked back into a corner and would have to interrupt the doctor/parent discussion underway in order to escape.  Instead, I prayed while floods of tears bathed my face and neck.  I listened to the mournful wails of a bereft mother, all the while looking to the Lord for His comfort for them, for the doctor (who had streaming tears of her own) and for myself:  "You know, Father don't You, the unique depths of pain at the dying of a child?" 

Church this morning was profoundly powerful as Pastor Art wove the Christmas story from the soil of its early telling & promise in Genesis, through the life of Abraham & Israel, to the advent of Kings and the hope of Prophets ... right down to the silent night of holy birth of the longed-for Messiah King:  God With Us.  He ended his message with this amazing song & video.

I hadn't planned to have such a burdensome Christmas post, but somehow it seems more scrumptious fare than anything fanciful I might have quickly crafted. 

Today I am again reminded in the most powerful, personal way of the one, sure, certain hope for all mankind for all of time, and for those - like Craig & Nancy - who suffer here and now:  Immanuel. 

Blessings & Good News
this Christmas season and always.

UPDATE:  At 4:00pm Christmas Day (yesterday), Drew's life-support was removed.  At 4:30pm, he moved from being disabled & comatose, to dancing on streets that are golden: fully alive & made whole. 

God's myriad comforts upon all who grieve today.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Resting Places

I laid it down in silence,
This work of mine,
And took what had been sent me--
A resting time.
The Master's voice had called me
To rest apart;
"Apart with Jesus only,"
Echoed my heart.

I took the rest and stillness
From His own Hand,
And felt this present illness
Was what He planned.
How often we choose labor,
When He says "Rest"--
Our ways are blind and crooked;
His way is best.

The work Himself has given,
He will complete.
There may be other errands
For tired feet;
There may be other duties
For tired hands,
The present, is obedience
To His commands.

There is a blessed resting
In lying still,
In letting His hand mould us,
Just as He will.
His work must be completed.
His lesson set;
He is the higher Workman:
Do not forget!

It is not only "working."
We must be trained;
And Jesus "learnt" obedience,
Through suffering gained.
For us, His yoke is easy,
His burden light.
His discipline most needful,
And all is right.

We are but under-workmen;
They never choose
If this tool or if that one
Their hands shall use.
In working or in waiting
May we fulfill
Not ours at all, but only
The Master's will!
~ Stream in the Desert
As the new year approaches, I have been curiously quizzical in terms of what the Lord is doing in & through my life.  What appears to be a long pause is anything but.  Even so, I find sitting or stillness very, very difficult.  I always have.  Thus I lean harder into His word, knowing full well that His ways are not mine; His will superior to anything I might conjure. 
Peace, be still ... and know ...  
Purposeful isolation with Jesus allows me to live
more peacefully with his population.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Tropical Wedding

Today is our last full day & night in Hawaii.  Our week is swiftly drawing to a close, but not the memories associated with sun, sand, surf and ~ best of all ~ our daughter's wedding.

Molly Diane was born to us on December 12th in 1970, the 2nd of 3 children.  From her earliest of days she was a child on a mission, one that insisted upon the charting of her own course.  She was and is smart, fun & funny, and full of life.  To say she is a joy is to admit to a poverty of words in describing her place in our hearts.

Seventeen years ago Molly married.  It was a hopeful union, and soon they were three.  Rylie, who turned 16 on December 12th (her mother's birthday AND wedding day), joined them.  But hopes soon turned to sorrow when Molly's husband found himself plagued with drug-related issues.  Still ... Molly waited while treatment programs & time seemed to be in her favor.  For nearly seven years she held out hope that one day the marriage would survive.  It did not.

Six years ago Tom Fisher came on the scene:  a man grieved over the loss of his own marriage; a man fathering two adorable daughters himself: Meagan & Ava.  Sparks flew.  From the git-go, Molly & Tom were smitten.

Terry & I watched closely as only parents/grandparents do in these matters.  Was he a good father to his daughters?  Would he respect our daughter and granddaughter?  Was he a noble man given to hard work?  On every count, and over a period of their years together we also found ourselves smitten with the man who'd captured Molly's heart, and ours.
This week Molly married her prince, while her father and I stood teary-eyed along with some 30+ family & friends who also traveled here to witness their marriage.  To a person ... all felt this was a marriage meant to be!

I've captured but a few pictures of my own since there's been a photographer in the mix.  Here are but a few ... 

Arriving on Maui - Terry & me, along with our "porter" Rylie

BEFORE:  Ava, Meagan, Rylie, Molly & Tom  
~ The promise of family

Rylie and her best friend, Chloe ~ Hawaiian style!

Where most of the wedding go-ers parked all week:  The Beach!

VIDEO ~ Daddy escorting his little girl ...

While the minister spoke of love & commitment, THEY only had eyes for each other.

Tom & the girls (Meagan, Ava, Rylie)
 Molly & the girls (Ava, Rylie, Meagan)
Ava and Meagan call her "MUMMY" ~ Sooooo sweet!

AFTER:  And then they were a family of five!

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We love you, Molly & Tom Fisher
Thank you for weaving such precious magic 
into the fabric of your family & ours!

12 ~ 12 ~ 12

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Kept Woman

I must confess, there are times when I just don't understand the fullness & complexity of God's amazing grace - - and never more than when it comes to the reality of being kept in Him, and by Him.  

There's so much talk today about how the Church is failing, or dead & dying.  I wonder how that fits with the fact of God's promises to the Body of Christ?  I must also wonder if it's not an indictment of God's Holy Spirit, Who actually guides, guards and leads the Church?    

Oh ... I readily recognize that shepherds & sheep can & do fall, or fail.  I recognize how goats move in much too close to unwary lambs; or weeds seek to choke out blooms.   

I also readily realize & rejoice in knowing that God's Kingdom WILL come on earth as it is in Heaven ... anyway.

It's good that we mortals aren't in charge!  

To those who have been called, 
who are loved in God the Father and
kept for Jesus Christ:  Mercy, peace 
and love be yours in abundance.
~ Jude 1-2

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling
 and to present you before his glorious presence 
without fault and with great joy 
to the only God our Savior be glory, 
majesty, power and authority, 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
before all ages, now and forevermore!
~ Jude 24-25

P.S.  We are still enjoying the Hawaiian Isle of Maui, having seen our daughter married last evening.  More on that another day ... Aloha!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On the Road Again

For the past several days hubby and I have been roosted in Vancouver, British Columbia.  It's a beautiful city just 4 hours north of our home in Washington State.  So when Terry has work here I gladly tag along.  From the warmth of our downtown, 20th floor room we look out upon a city alive & aglitter.  

I've never been to Vancouver at Christmas-time.  What wonderful ambiance accompanies my usual touristy excursions this trip!  I've logged plenty of miles as I walk up hill & down; below ground, too.  The Malls here are neatly tucked away beneath the bustle of city life.  And I do mean bustle!

We head home later today, just in time to pack for Hawaii.  We leave the Pacific Northwest's chill at dawn's break on Saturday morning, exchanging it for the warmth of Maui's sun-baked shores. 

The reason for our tropical getaway is for a week-long celebration of our daughter's wedding to her long-time love.  Molly & Tom will marry on 12/12/12 - her birthday (42), and her daughter Rylie's birthday (16).  How cool is that?!!  Better still, we get two new granddaughters in the bargain:  Megan (11) and Ava (7).

I will be paying you a visit shortly.  In the meantime, just know that I treasure the cyber-friendship here ... friendship that's as real as any I know.

Love to all!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Verdicts, Value & Validation

I've often wondered what's behind the attention grabbing antics of we mortals beyond the obvious. In various & assorted ways we make our presence known. Why? Is it narcissism? Showmanship? Ambition? Flawed character? Something else?

There's the undeniable variety- - the grand-standing, self-aggrandizement that's instantly recognizable. Then there's the lessor sort - - the stealth maneuvers that aren't quite so easy to discern.

Two year olds demonstrate all-too-well what it means to be the center of one's own universe.

Several days ago I heard someone give testimony to their need for validation. It had caused them to do something they really didn't want to do, but they did it anyway because it brought positive & powerful attention from their family.  

My antennae both heard & made note of their transparency.

Rightly or wrongly, I've concluded that the need for validation is quite likely at the root of so many attention-getting maneuvers, not to mention heartache. Who among us does not want their lives to count for something?

According to Merriam, validate means to ratify or make valid. It's to sanction, confirm, support and/or corroborate; to recognize, establish, and authenticate legitimacy. It's no small wonder that people search high & low for it, even when the altruisic is compromised in the process.  

Searching for validation oftentimes entails a scurry along the rabbit trails of life thinking IF ONLY I could accomplish THIS, or be noticed for THAT, I would feel so much better about myself. IF ONLY ...
  • I could lose 25 pounds
  • I were important; accomplished
  • I could get my book published
  • I were older/younger, taller/shorter
  • I had more money
  • I were more like my brother or sister
  • He hadn't left me
  • My parents had sent me to another school
  • I hadn't messed up
  • I wasn't so shy
... and on and on it goes - - the age-old snare of a works-infused worldview. We gravitate towards human doings/havings versus human beings. The futile & endless rigors of comparing oneself to some earth-bound standard in order to garner validation.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves
with some who commend themselves.
When they measure themselves by themselves
and compare themselves with themselves,
they are not wise.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:12

The truly tragic aspect of all this is that THEY (whoever THEY are) keep moving the standard - - the ever shifting, fickle whims of a world enchanted with all things sensory & visual.   

So why do we do it?

I've come to believe that people just want their personhood, goals & dreams to be authenticated.  They want their lives to have value even if - tragically - it comes at a cost they hadn't counted.  

I wish I could say this subject-matter is the exclusive domain of the unbeliever, or the unchurched. Sadly, God's own people (and me among them) suffer the same affliction.  The "Look at me" and its companion "Don't look at me" are born in the same soup.

It is true, as Augustine of Hippo tells us:  "You arouse us so that praising You may bring us joy, because You have made us and drawn us to Yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in You." 

There, in Him, is our validation; and with it, the peace that passes all understanding.   

But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.
For it is not the one who commends himself who
is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:17-18

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus
to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
~ Ephesians 2:8-10

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time ...

I love those words.  To me they represent the great joy of story telling. And if anything is forever & intricately woven into the fabric of my childhood, it's story telling; when slipper-shod feet would scurry up the stairs for a nightly tuck-in & bedtime saga. 

On the heals of my scamper was my dad.  Often he'd give me a head start in order to hide (in one of my usual 3 or 4 "secret" places).  Then, with great flare & drama he would woefully call to me ... "Where is she?  Where is my Kathy?  I can't find her anywhere!"  He would then proceed to look in the most unlikely places for me - a dresser drawer, or out the window, or beneath the floor rug.   

His was a father's method for making our bedtime ritual fresh every night.  Upon discovery, he would overly fuss about having finally found me, all the while scooping me up to the sounds my giggles.  Fun as it was, I always knew the best was yet to come.

Once upon a time ...

As he nestled me into my bed covers, we'd settle down for a story - -either one he'd make up on-the-spot (with amazing antics, details & drama), or from a book of tales.  I adored Uncle Wiggily & Brer Rabbit.  In fact, I can still feel the heft of the large book that contained their stories. 

Once upon a time ... became the breathless segue to a world made vivid and real by my father's intonations - complete with facial expressions, sound effects & convincing assurances.

It has been said that I have a vivid imagination.  That is true.  On the positive side, it means I can readily envision goals, or easily craft plans & agendas & solutions to an array of challenges.  In my former business life, they called it creative problem solving.

On the negative side, it means I see bogeymen where none exist; or calculate trouble that never arrives.  I dream in color.  Mostly it's called fretting, or worry.

I suppose all of that has something to do with why I love being a mother & gandmother.  Each in turn, the babes born to our family have allowed me to practice & play out the scenes from my childhood; to utilize the vivid imagination that was - no doubt - born in the drama of my Father's storytelling.  I keep a stash of books for that very reason.  On occasion, when they're old enough to listen, I craft tales of my own design, just like my father did so long ago.  

Even today, a quiet hush comes over me when I hear those words:
Once upon a time ... far, far away ...

... God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth,
a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be
married to a man named Joseph,
a descendant of David.
The virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and
wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary;
you have found favor with God. 
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you are to call him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called
the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give Him the throne of
his father David, and he will reign over
Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.” 
~ Luke 1:26-33

I can hardly wait for the rest of the story ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let Us Give Thanks

Not what we say about our blessings,
but how we use them,
is the true measure of our thanksgiving. 
~W.T. Purkiser
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I would maintain that thanks are the
highest form of thought;
and that gratitude is happiness
doubled by wonder. 
~G.K. Chesterton
The Pilgrims made seven times more graves
than huts.   No Americans have been
 more impoverished than these who,
nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. 
~H.U. Westermayer 
Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.

~George Herbert
Joining this chorus of grateful voices to wish you & yours a truly blessed & memorable day of Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grocery Store Evangelism

"Should I purchase two one pound packages of Italian sausage, or the singular two pound package?"  

Back & forth I went as I conversed with myself while trying to make my decision. 

"The larger package is only a savings of 3 cents over the smaller ones; which would actually be a better size anyway.  But the larger one could be cut in thirds and frozen that way.  That might work better." 

Back and forth.  Back and forth. 

My choice needn't have been so difficult or time-consuming, but for some reason it was.  It kept me standing at the meat counter far longer than I'd intended.

"Well now; I'm done with my shopping!" came a voice from somewhere behind me. 

I glanced over my shoulder to see an elderly man standing beside me, his shopping cart neatly stacked with grocery items.  It was then that I realized he was actually speaking to me.

"That about does it.  And I got my Thanksgiving turkey, too.  It's only 28 cents a pound."

He offered all this as if we'd been friends forever, just talking about grocery shopping as BFFs might do.

I smiled politely, and gave him the Thumb's Up sign, adding:  "Good job!  What a great cost savings ... a blessing for sure."

"Not really.  Last year I only paid 19 cents a pound.  Hey ... are you religious?"

Taken back only briefly, I replied:  "I don't think so.  Mostly I believe the scriptures and what Jesus did for and in me. He changed my life."  

"That's what I thought:  religious.  I don't have anything to do with that stuff."

"Stuff?", I asked.  "Have you had a bad experience with church, or with Christians?"

"Naw ...  it's just that ... well...  er .... a long time ago I lost my son."

"I'm so sorry to hear that.  It must have been a terribly painful loss for you."

"Hey ... are those fresh green beans in your cart?  You know, my wife adds a bit of onion & some bacon, then simmers them slowly for hours.  They're the best!"

"I do that too.  My mother was a farm girl, and that's how she cooked fresh green beans."

"You don't say?!!  I've never met anyone that does them that way.  You're the first."

By now we were walking towards the dairy aisle.  My new friend kept pace with me, as if he needed dairy items too.  Hadn't he just told me he was done with his shopping?

"My brother's religious.  He's really wacky."

"Why do you say that?  Is he overly zealous?"

"No, he has Alzheimer's (me, surpressing laughter, knowing he connected Christians to Alzheimer's victims).  And he's younger than me.  Would you believe I'm 95?" 

"Wow.  You're 95?  That's amazing.  I'm sorry about your brother."

By now I'm not sure what to do with my new friend.  He was obviously in need of a conversation, never mind we were now blocking two aisles.  I could tell he was regular at this, because every store clerk that walked by he greeted with familiarity; they responded in kind. 

"Well, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving.  God bless you."

"I thought you said you weren't religious?"

"Here's the deal ... I simply accept what Jesus did for me. If that's religious, then I'm guilty as charged."

"I don't believe in Him."

"Well, He believes in you!"

"Don't say that ... ", now quickening his pace to look me in the eye. 

"You know, I do believe in God, just not the New Testament stuff..  It's all just a bunch of stuff the Catholics put together."   (me supressing a soap box session on how much the early Church/Catholics gave us in the form of today's Canon)

"Really?  I didn't know that.  So let's just say we ignore the New Testament for a moment.  Did you know the Old Testament says the exact same thing?"


"Who & what did God promise Adam & Eve from the git-go as the One who would ultimately defeat evil?  Who is the King/Priest that will rule mankind?  Who is Immanuel?  Who is the suffering/saving Messiah?  What were the feasts & atonement sacrifices meant to typify?"

I waited for it to sink in.

"By the way, my name's Ron.  What's yours?"

"I'm Kathleen."

"Do you know where I can find the sliced turkey; the kind you use for sandwiches?"

"You bet.  Just head back down the deli aisle and you'll see it at the very end."

"Thank you, Kathleen; you've been kind"

"God bless you, Ron."

As I walked away I found myself chuckling a bit, but also humbled - - absolutely certain that God had ordained my 20 minute visit with Ron.  I began praying silently; prayers that attended my thoughts throughout the day and continue still.  

It is true:  We just never know when a divine appointment is scheduled. 

In case you're wondering, I bought the two individual packages of Italian sausage.

" ... in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect ... 
~ 1 Peter 3:15

Footnote:  There are so many dots to connect to this one experience I hardly know where to begin.  I often pray:  "Lord, lead me.  Show me when & where & how to be Your hands & feet."  Equally often I am dumbfounded when He orchestrates something profound in the midst of the mundane.  God wanted Ron to know that he is loved.  In the midst of that, the Gospel was shared.  What was a routine jaunt to the store for me became a milestone of ministry.  I came away with the sense that Ron's life will never be the same.  I know mine won't. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

To Dad, With Love


In the days leading up to Thanksgiving 1964, Dad was sicker than ever we'd known him to be.  He had battled leukemia for well over a year; a battle we knew was drawing near to an end.  Or did we?  In some remote regions of the heart there was that hope:  He's not REALLY going to die. 

We had just celebrated his 62nd birthday on November 17.  Surely he was simply too young for death to claim him.  Surely.

(Dad & Mom at his last birthday celebration.
Notice the cake's mountain & river;
mother's touch to Dad's love of nature.)

(Dad, far left, at age 7 - #5 among his 10 siblings)

Once a robust man - a lover of all things faith, family, athletics,
& outdoors - his life had been relegated to the couch in our living room.  He slept there.  He ate there (if he could even eat at all).  He watched TV there.  He witnessed the happenings of our home from that one locale.

(Dad, left.  Here we have
evidence of the origens of his
penchant for all things dapper.)
(Dad, center at age 14 - a friend among friends)

(Dad , center with the ball -
forever the enthusiast of basketball,
football &
Friday night's boxing matches)
(Dad, center - the naturalist)
(Dad, 2nd from Left - forever the classy collegiate!)
(Dad & Mom ... their early years; their early love)
(Dad, ever the fisherman)
(Dad the skier)
(Dad, hiker & mountain climber)

My three sisters were each married & no longer living at home.  So it was my cherished duty (and sometimes burden) to spend Saturdays by Dad's side while mother worked.  I'd prepare his lunch, change TV channels, steady him as he rose or reclined, or just sit quietly by his side while he slept.   

Each day he seemed to shrink smaller-and-smaller.

(Dad's last days, with Mom & his brother, Elmer)

But on Thanksgiving, this now frail man of 90 pounds made his way from the couch to the banqueting table.  There he gave thanks.  What more could he want than to be among the collection of treasures that were, ever-and-always, his joy:  His wife, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren? 

Outside a snowy wonderland had settled upon us - - an unusual condition for Washington State, and all the more so because it was not yet Winter.  From our paned dining room windows the soft glow of snow's glory only added to the beauty of that particular Thanksgiving. 

(Snowfall on the family home)

Following the meal it was painfully obvious something was terribly amiss with Dad.  Mother called for help; an ambulance.  It had grown dark outside, and the muffled silence of a snow-laden world intensified the moments we waited for its arrival.  In procession, the entire family followed by car to the hospital.

For the next several days Dad slipped further & further away; his illness now made tortuous by the staff infection that was attacking his body & the pneumonia that insisted upon taking his breath away altogether.  Leukemia leaves its victims with nothing to fight off such mortal enemies.

One evening we were all summoned to Dad's bedside.  With a surge of energy and courage, he spoke of his love & bid his farewell.  He knew he must leave, but couldn't do so without these finishing & noble gestures.  Once accomplished he moved from the land of the lucid to the comatose.  Within a few short days, December 4th, he left our snowy realms to walk streets of gold.  

This Saturday is my father's birthday.  He would be 110 years old were he alive today.  And, while I prepare for & rejoice about the season upon us, I cannot do so without remembering the days of his life, and of his leaving.  It is a bittersweet tincture.  

A man larger-than-life to most of us left a huge & gaping hole where once he stood.  Today I remember, and I honor him.  

He loved the Lord and the whole of God's creation.  He gave context to the concept of grace.  He loved & served his family humbly; his church body too.  Every night of their married life, he & mother would knee beside their bed to pray - - an image my sisters and I will never forget.

(Terry & Me; the day of my Dad's funeral
 - only 16 and 2 years from being married)

As a youngster my father followed me to bed every night, where he tenderly tucked me in with a story.  He played hide-n-seek better than anyone I ever knew or have known.  He could be stern, especially if lied to or sassed.  He smelled of aftershave & Clorets gum.  His hands were broad & strong, and warm.  I loved placing my small hand inside his, then again inside his coat pocket whenever we came or went from the house.  For endless hours I could ride my trike around his basement workspace and never incur his impatience.  I loved sitting on the backside of the couch, legs draped over his shoulders, and pat his bald head.  I can still see him doing dishes in the kitchen so mother could sit, or working in our backyard garden.  

I was his Palsey Walsey, and his Beetlebom

(Daddy & me.  He was 46 when
I joined the family)


He was, and will always be my Daddy.

(Dad & me; my first communion)

Missing you today, Dad,
and wishing you a Happy Birthday.

November 17, 1902 - December 4, 1964
Comment from my sister Barbara (#2 daughter), who sent me a separate email that's well worth the sharing: 
I just read your tribute to dad, it touched my heart and brought back so many memories. How blest we were to have such an amazing example of all that is good, honorable, humble, industrious, patient, honest and oh, so many other attributes, I could go on and on. He was so special and he was our father. What a gift God gave us to be his daughters, cherished and loved beyond measure. I treasure all the memories I have of him (and of mom) and thank God every night for both of them. Oh, the joy when we meet again in the Heavenly place where there is only all things good and never ending. I can hardly wait...
Much love to the little sister he was so proud of.