Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tending the Tender Shoots

The land too poor for any other crop,
is best for raising men. ~ R. Pocock

It's such a blessing to live above the fertile valleys of Kent, Auburn, Puyallup, Sumner & Orting.   In days gone by they were the destination of many a Sunday driver, as well as the gateway to National Forests that are, even today, breath-taking in their beauty. 

These rural realms lay in a direct path between the stately Mt. Rainier and the city of Seattle.  All along the way the land is dotted with farms, fields, dairies & ranches, where even today a profusion of crops make ready for Spring & Summer harvests; crops like Daffodil, Hyacinth & Tulip bulbs.  Dill Weed & Alfalfa.  Cucumbers.  Raspberry & Blueberry vines.  From certain views the expanse of flowers looks more like a carpeted scene from Holland than this locale so near a booming metropolis.

One thing's certain:  the unseeing eye has not beheld even half the labor that's gone into the valley's prolific profusions. 

I feel a lot like those fields.  The soil of my soul has been tilled, amended, seeded & watered.  It's warmed by the sun; relieved by the gray cloud cover.  In some quarters there are tender shoots just now beginning to break through the surface.  In another patch are fully developed flowers, though not yet sturdy-of-stock enough to be cut or harvested.  Nothing is eager to be loosened.   

It's just where I am.  Laboring and tending.  I can hardly wait to observe the yield.  It's coming.

The master's eye is the best fertilizer. ~ Pliny the Elder

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keeper of Memories

One of the primary reasons I blog relates directly to the keeping of memories.  I suppose that makes of my work here a Memoir of sorts.   In my estimation, that is a worthy pursuit.  Memories are often (though not always) a treasure, whether they be old & dust-laden, or fresh & new.  

In recent days I've had the amazing, unexpected and great pleasure of visiting memories old.  It all began like this ...

While scanning a Facebook post on Monday, I ran across & recognized a familiar surname.  As if born on a soft summer breeze, a memory of youth and my dear friend Linda arrived.  I hadn't seen her since the late 60s or early 70s, even though she'd come to mind on many ocassions over the years.  But with no way to contact her I abandoned any attempt to locate her, and once again tucked all related-memories away. 

But now, what with the advances on the internet, I wondered if there might be a way to track her down.  So I began checking Facebook and other sites ... to no avail. 

Then I remembered that Linda's brother worked for a local newspaper, so I began perusing for his name.  Score!  I found it, but was saddened to see that he had retired.  However ... in small print was an email address for him, though I had no way of knowing if it was current or not.  I sent a message anyway, then proceeded on with my day. 

Several hours lapsed and, while shopping at the local Sam's Club, I heard my cellphone ring.  I didn't recognize the incoming number, but I picked up the call anyway.  Incredulity & joy flooded my heart as I heard the caller ... "Kathy, this is Linda.  I can't believe this!" 

I suppose the rest is history; another new memory.  But it's not.  Yesterday - just a day following that serendipitous phone conversation - we met for lunch.  Straightaway tears flowed, so good was the meeting.  There were long moments of staring ... gazing into eyes and scanning faces to remember and rejoice in the remains of youth found there ... and the memories. 

For the next several hours we brought each other up-to-speed on life.  Oh the ground we've traveled since parting ways!  (A parting that was for no good reason beyond our lives having taken their own, different trajectories).  Laughter & tears are such a rare blend when handling a span of nearly 40 years. 

Within moments it became evident that both Linda and I had found our way to the Lord in the span since our parting; and almost at the same point in life & age.  She, a widow by the age of 27; and me, a disenchanted soul of a different sort at roughly the same age. 

It took very little time to discern that God had ordained our moments together ... now, as well as then.   So many memories have been kept in tact. 

As teens, Linda and I shared high school fun, first loves, secrets, sorrows, dances, fashion and so much more.  She was a bridesmaid in my wedding.  I admired her tender heart & fun loving ways; her penchant for makeup & hairdos. She (as she shared yesterday) admired my smarts & strength; the relative quiet of my family. 
(That's Linda, the first on the left; followed by my sister, Carol;
then Terry's sister, Colleen; then on the far right another BFF, Jan)

Little did we know waaaaayyyyy back then, or even in the years intervening, that we would arrive at this new day ... AND that we'd admire so much more in, and about each other; or that we'd be penning new memories onto hearts forever bound by God's grace.  

Welcome back into my life, Linda.  I now remember how much I've missed you.

A friend knows the song in my heart and
sings it to me when my memory fails.
~Donna Roberts

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art....
It has no survival value;
rather it is one of those things
that give value to survival. 
~C.S. Lewis


Postscript:  Linda ... should you find your way to this particular post, just know how much I appreciate the new verbiage you've given me.  What I used to call: "My stupid years", will now - thanks to you - forever be: "The years I was working on my testimony."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Walking with Mr. Magoo

"German feet wear shoes."

Huh?  Say what?  What's wrong with this quote?
Well ... for one thing, it's what I gleaned from a daily devotional I read earlier today before equipping my eyeballs with glasses.  OIY! 

The sentence actually reads:    "Genuine faith wears shoes." 

BIG difference!   

Then again ... maybe there's a lesson here somewhere.  There always is.

All of life, and certainly God's word, is best read & assessed with clear sight.  Even one's inner sight - vision - works best in the same fashion.  I fear I have erred on occasion (or several such), by navigating, Mr. Magoo style, and peering (as if certain) at something that is actually quite fuzzy or blurred.   Come to think of it, it's the hazard of humanity:

For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when completeness comes, what is in part
When I was a child, I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood
behind me. 
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.  
1 Corinthians 13:9-12

So now my glasses sit atop my devotional, lest I befuddle myself another day.

FOOTNOTE:  I wholeheartedly believe that my faithful German friends were shoes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Perspectives from the Pause

Sit in reverie and watch the changing color
of the waves that break upon the idle
seashore of the mind.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For nearly 40 days I have disengaged myself from much of my social underpinnings.  I shut & locked the front door of my blog, then put a hold on Facebook.  It wasn't so much a Lenten thing as it was a pause.  I need them every so often.  As it turns out, my pauses are often a means of experiencing life in fresh, new ways.

This pause was multi-faceted, and strange.

It began with our decision to bid farewell to the Irish Wake, our seaworthy boat.  After many fun & joy-filled excursions, we decided it's season had passed, and the money (can anybody say "gas prices"?) best spent elsewhere. 

We then had the great, good pleasure of spending a few days with our Arizona Pastor (surrogate son & best of friends), Greg, and his wife Lori.  They were in Seattle for a speaking engagement, but we managed to carve out time to catch up.  As some of you know, Greg was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (a lethal illness that combines Parkinson's symptoms with something akin to Lou Gehrig's) last March, and given a not-so-lovely prognosis.  We are always blessed by his attitude.  Lori's too.  As you can well imagine, it's a tough, cruel battle they're waging, with 4 children (14, 12, 10 & 6) battling alongside them.  Their faith AND humor is nothing short of amazing.  We treasure the time we have with them.

That same weekend we got a call that Terry's older brother (by one year), Tim, was gravely ill; that we probably ought to come to the care facility to see him if we hoped to connect before he passed away.  Seems he had pneumonia-like symptoms and was being treated for that.  When there was no progress, the docs performed further tests only to discover he had an acutely advanced case of lung cancer.  Before we could change our clothes and make the hour long drive to see him, he slipped away ... the first of my husband's 6 siblings to leave, and only 65. 

On a lighter note I began facilitating a women's mentoring group.  There are 7 of us, and our weeks together have been a rare blend of digging into God's word and sharing life's challenges.  I remind them I am but their Tour Guide, which leaves much room for God to move; and move He does!

Spring has been an elusive element here this year.  The pause has seen torrents or rain, then sunny skies, then SNOW, then more rain, and now days of glorious sunshine.  Our weather forecasters are false prophets, that's all I can say!  What joy it is to watch the trees cloaking themselves in new layers of green, and the shrubs & flowers unfurling in splendid array. 

My youngest son's wife, Katrina, has decided to work part time in order to help with their finances so I am doing the Nanny Granny thing two days a week.  It means I'm drawing upon energy stores I didn't know I had.  The older boys - 17 & 13 - are typically in school while I'm there, so it's young Kole that is my primary focus.  He's a busy little guy, but so good.  On Tuesdays we go to the YMCA for Toddler Gym.  His workout is MY workout.  Need I say more? 

In the midst of the pause we have continued to forge new bonds with friends from church ...  Mike & Sue, John & Karri, Carolyn & Mike, Jim & Kazziah to name a few.  Home Group is a highlight of my week, especially when Terry's in town to join me/us.  Last week we had a potluck fellowship at our home, complete with stories, games & much laughter.  Doing life with others makes for some rich experiences.

Wednesdays are dear to me because I spend them with my older sister, Dolores.  At 79, she has the outlook & energy of a much younger woman; and we share a common love of the Lord.  In recent weeks we've been working our way through the Book of Revelation - marveling at the promises and the glory to come.  Hours lapse as we talk & share, laugh & pray ...  The world is a much better place when we're through.

It's amazing how much has been crammed into my pause - - some of it planned, some of it serendipitous (is that a word?), some of lovely, and some of it not-so-lovely.  What I'm aware of most is that I am much more alert, more in the moment.  I am also grateful for the freedom to press pause any time.

"And the work of righteousness will be peace,
and the service of righteousness,
quietness and confidence forever."
Isaiah 32:17

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wedged In Between

As I pondered anew the power of Christ's death & resurrection earlier today (Saturday), I found myself high-centered on the FACT of Saturday. 

It goes without saying that Good Friday features prominently in our considerations ... and many among us observe the solemnity of that occasion privately or publicly.  Many businesses close their doors in order for employees to do likewise.  Many knees are bent on Friday. 

And Sunday certainly deserves the joy-filled fanfare it gets from year-to-year as believers unite around the globe to celebrate the hope of resurrection morn - - The Living Christ - Victor, Conqueror, King.  Many hearts are buoyed on Sunday. 

But the day in between, Saturday, is a day of despair; one wedged between those polar opposites of loss/grief and glory.  Many souls are downcast on Saturday. 

I do that, at least some of the time.  I look far into the future (or to tomorrow) with great expectations fueled by faith-filled hope & anticipation.  Then something happens or comes along to disturb or derail the process ... a Good Friday of sorts.  It is then that I freefall into Saturday's wedge, not knowing Sunday's comin'.  It's a pattern I've repeated multiple times in my life.  I dare say I may repeat it again. 

I'm a slow learner. 

Wedge days.  They're synonymous with despair & loss.  They needn't be.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


"So true is this: civil liberty cannot be
long preserved without virtue."
John Witherspoon

Virtue.  It's a word we don't hear much about today - - either by definition, or by example.  Come to think of it, it's one of those words I expect to find in Merriam's collection with the term archaic adjacent to it.  Any talk of virtue is likely to be met with a blank stare or a patronizing smile. 

It's sort of a bleak way to return, isn't it.  It's been several weeks since I've dropped into the blogosphere, and here I come with a rant.  Well, maybe not a real rant.  Maybe it's just a quick hop on, hop off the soap box.  Maybe.

This doesn't happen very often, but Merriam wants us to know that virtue is not just any garden variety term.  It's meaty & robust, reaching far beyond it's synonym morality.
  • a: conformity to a standard of right,  b: a particular moral excellence
  • manly strength or courage, valor
  • a commendable quality or trait, merit
  • a capacity to act, potency 
  • chastity, especially in a woman
Now we know why it's such a rare commodity.  

"The world on the whole will gain by a liberty,
without which virtue cannot exist."
Edmund Burke

"There is no truth more thoroughly established,
than that there exists . . . an indissoluble union
between virtue and happiness."
George Washington 

Virtue's linkage (or lack thereof) extends well beyond the domain of women, as Merriam (and scripture) tells us.  We need only do a bit of channel surfing to see how dreadfully absent it is from today's line up:

...  The Family Viewing Hour now hosts 4 letter words and adult themes (What's with that "GCB" thing, anyway?  And all the paranormal stuff?). 
... Test the political waters and risk 3rd degree burns. 
... Flip through the Life & Times of Hollywood Types and plug your nose. 
... Scan the global news scene and quickly grab your Guide to Lunacy for an explanation.  

So maybe this IS a rant after-all ...

I am sooooooo grateful for all the people I know - like YOU - who subscribe to virtue's value.    

(A)s God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another ...
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.  
Colossians 3:12-14

Rare?  You betcha!  And no wonder - - it's not just anyone that has a stash of rubies.