Project 52 – Bonus Post – Books!

July 20th, 2016

Last night, I accidentally skipped this picture of my sisters and me with our library books:

1969_08 Reading

I like this picture, because I was thinking about books I read when I lived in Kent. There were two chapter books I got out of the “big section” of the library — one was Winnie-the-Pooh (which I remember my Mom reading to me), and one was this one — The Poppy Seed Cakes. (Ha! I just looked it up, and it is still in print! I am going to have to get myself a copy!)

I am quite sure that my Grandma Bates also had a copy of this book and that it was one my Mom had read and loved as a child. Anyway, when I read it at home, it was from the library.

The other books I remember reading while we lived in Kent were mostly Beginner Books. I remember that my Mom bought me a copy of Are You My Mother?, by P. D. Eastman. And it may have been new — but I also remember her reading to me Fox in Socks, by Dr. Seuss, and my Mom making much of the question at the end, “And now is your tongue numb?”

We owned many other Beginner Books for a longer time — I don’t remember them being bought. Some Berenstain Bears ones (The Big Honey Hunt and The Bike Lesson). Go, Dog. Go! The Cat in the Hat. Hop on Pop. Green Eggs and Ham. We may have had Dr. Seuss’s ABC.

In the picture, Becky is clearly reading a chapter book, too. But Wendy, at not quite two years old, is not reading. Yes, we learned to read early, but not quite that early. She is imitating her big sisters!

Oh, and I have to add one more thing because Facebook just reminded me today is the anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, 1969.

I remember sitting in my Mom’s lap in the car (yes, the front seat!) and she said that I’d be able to tell my grandchildren that I remembered when men walked on the moon. What a ridiculous idea that was!

We also went out in the front yard and looked up at the full moon and waved to the astronauts!

Project 52 – Five Years Old, to California, Alas!

July 19th, 2016

Little Girl

Five weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I began Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life.

1969_06 FifthBirthday

This picture brings back lots of memories around Birthdays. Remember that Birthdays are super important when you are five years old.

My Mom had a rule that we kids didn’t get a birthday party until we were in school. And yet you see me having a birthday party at five years old, before I was in Kindergarten. That’s because June 13, the day before my birthday, was the last day of school and a Field Day at school. I think it was a short day, too. Afterward, lots of the neighbor kids came over, and I’m pretty sure some cousins, too, and they had cake and ice cream for me.

I was remembering that was a kind of special bonus because it was the last day of school and field day. I remember that on my real birthday, the next day, Saturday, we had a gingerbread cake.

I was thinking back if that memory could be right. I did the calculations. Sure enough, in 1969, my birthday fell on Saturday. It’s surprising what a five-year-old can remember when it’s super important to her!

That was actually the first and last birthday party my Mom threw for me. I was looking forward to having a birthday party once I was in Kindergarten. I spent my school year deciding who I would invite. I remember I drew a picture of my birthday party. You could tell it was my birthday because there was a flag on the house. (My birthday is Flag Day and at the time I thought that was the best thing ever. Okay, yeah, I still think it’s pretty cool.)

Once I was mad at a girl and told my Mom I wasn’t going to invite her to my birthday party. She gave me a talk with something about forgiveness and love your enemies. So I was considering inviting her because I was such a noble person.

But it was all a moot point. When Becky’s birthday came around in March, I don’t know exactly what happened (I do remember some chaos.), but my Mom decided she was never going to throw a birthday party again. Which decision was devastating to me at the time. (I was told that I got a birthday party before I was in school, anyway. Though I knew that was different, because I hadn’t gotten to invite my own friends.) But then we moved anyway….

As I thought about this year, I realized I remember a lot more disappointments than earlier years. I guess as you grow up, you start to learn you don’t get everything you want.

But there are still good memories. I love this picture of our family in November 1969.

1969_11 Family

That year, Ricky turned 8 in October, Becky was 6, I was 5, Wendy turned 2 in October, and Randy turned 1 in February.

That summer, we took a ferry to Canada — another country!

1969_08 Canada1

I remember Randy as being hard to keep up with on the ferry. He would have been only 6 months old, so maybe I’m misremembering, but he was the youngest to learn to walk in the whole family.

1969_08 Canada2

And in 1969 I started going to school!

My teacher was Mrs. Wirt. I loved Kindergarten with all my heart.

On the first day, we learned the song, “Like a leaf or a feather, in the windy, windy weather. We will whirl around and twirl around and all fall down together.” I use that song in Autumn story times today.

1969_09 Lunch Box

That might be a lunch box in this picture — no, I think my first lunch box was a Barn lunch box. It’s probably some kind of toy radio. And wait a minute — I went to half-day Kindergarten, so I didn’t need a lunch box yet.

And I still got more individual time with my Mom — I think of it as me and Wendy with Mom, since Randy was still a baby.

And I saw the very first Sesame Street! My Weekly Reader told about a new educational show starting up. Wikipedia says it first aired on November 10, 1969. I think I watched it in the early afternoon, just after getting home, before Ricky and Becky got home. I could already read, but I loved the show anyway. My favorite of all was the chef who was part of the counting videos and always fell down stairs with a bunch of desserts. I always acted that part out.

And we used to watch Captain Kangaroo, too! That might have been before Kindergarten. I do know I watched it with Wendy, and her favorite part was when the ping-pong balls fell on their heads. I remember two books especially being read by Captain Kangaroo. One was a book that my great-grandmother had at her house, Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag. The other was Caps for Sale. I can still hear Captain Kangaroo’s soothing voice in my head when I read that book. And both are still wonderful for reading aloud.

But alas! I had looked forward to getting a Snow Day once I went to school, like my brother and sister had gotten the year before.

The only snow that fell that winter 1969-70 in Seattle — happened during my nap! That’s right — I remember looking out my upstairs window and seeing the snowflakes falling onto the green grass — and melting. By the time my nap was over — the snow wasn’t even falling.

And that was the year I heard a school bus driver say she hoped it wouldn’t snow! I made a vow in my heart then and there to never be the kind of grown-up who didn’t like snow. I’ve pretty much managed to keep that vow to this day.

These next pictures show that we were already in tune with the fashions of the 70s!

1969_11 Sisters

In fact, 1969 is the first year I remember knowing what year it was. The date was printed on the dimes we got for our allowance each week. (I know! So much money!) I remember how strange “1970” sounded and looked!

1969_12 70s almost here

But 1970 brought the great tragedy of my young life.

One day, when I got home from school, Mommy told me, very excitedly, “We’re moving to California!” I went out to the garage and cried. I cried for my friend Karen to come get me. I did not at all want to move.

I planned from then on to leave California when I got the chance. That was another thing I managed to pull off as an adult. The way I saw it, California was way too hot and way too smoggy and way too little green. And it didn’t snow! (Remember, I thought that the “Big Snow” the year I was four years old was the way it was supposed to be every winter in Seattle.)

We took a trip to California before we moved and went to my grandpa’s funeral in Phoenix, Arizona, first. I met some of my many cousins I hadn’t met before. I remember being so surprised when cousin Craig called my Dad “Uncle Ronnie.” I think I also remember meeting Uncle Dean on that trip. (My Dad has eight brothers and three sisters. A couple of big families of cousins lived in Seattle area, so we already knew them. After this we would get to know the California cousins — with girl cousins my age!) I know I’d been to Grandma and Grandpa’s house when Grandpa was still alive, but now I think I was old enough to remember more and maybe they even let me climb “Grandma’s mountain” in back of the house.

Anyway, I had to leave my friends and my home in May 1970, with only a couple months left of Kindergarten. In California, there was no grass on the playground. And I wasn’t really in Kindergarten long enough there to make friends.

My sixth year was awfully eventful. A lot of memories I know were from that year because they happened in Kent.

Now I’m thinking of what I forgot to mention…. I may end up adding to this post this week (like I did last week). My best friends in Kindergarten were Karen Stewart and Beth Bell. But I’m not sure if they thought I was their friend of if I just liked them best. I know that I got to play at Beth’s house a few times.

But Kindergarten is also when I encountered a mean girl. A new girl, named Summer, joined our class in the middle of the year. She was friends with a girl I thought was my friend named Sherry. Or it might actually have been Karen. Anyway, one time I decided to sit by those two on the bus on the way home, because I wanted in on this friendship. And they pinched me, all the way home. Bad enough to draw blood in places.

I think that was the incident when I got the talking-to about forgiveness. I do NOT think I showed my Mom the pinch marks. I wasn’t going to invite Summer to my birthday party! But I might have ended up doing it to “repay evil with good.” Except that by the time my birthday came around, I lived in California and had a new set of classmates I didn’t really know yet.

Anyway, in California, the very next year, I made a true best friend…. Stay tuned next week!

Project 52: Four Years Old and a Baby Brother

July 12th, 2016

1968_07 Four Years Old

Four weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52 — For 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect on one year of my life.

Last week, I ran out of pictures I’d copied, so I asked my Dad to help out, and he came through beautifully, scanning in lots of pictures from when I was small, all meticulously labeled by my Mom with the month they were taken.

Today I’ll begin with my fourth birthday, June 14, 1968. The family tradition of licking the beaters for the birthday cake began early. I remember “helping” my Mom make and frost cakes (loved to do that!) and I remember those blue gingham shoes. My sister Becky had matching ones in red.

1968_06 Beaters

But this picture, with my fourth birthday cake, is the one that makes me super happy.

1968_06 Little Marcy

When thinking about doing these posts and living in Kent, Washington, I’d already been remembering all my Little Marcy records and how much I loved them. What I hadn’t remembered was that the collection was a gift for my fourth birthday! No wonder I knew they were my records! No wonder I loved them so very much!

Okay, a youtube search does make me question my judgment. I can’t, actually, watch the ones that show the puppet. And they only seem to have recordings of the very weirdest songs.

But four-year-old me loved Little Marcy with all my heart!

There were hundreds of songs, and most of them, honest, were not creepy or weird. Many were, as advertised, the same songs we’d sing in Sunday School. I’d play the records and dance around the house singing along. I still can sing along without pause to any songs that turned up on Google.

My Mom also taught my Sunday School class around this time. We went to church at a Baptist church in Seattle. Mommy had a whole big set of flannelgraph Bible stories, and I also loved to play with the flannelgraph. I’m pretty sure I made up my own stories about the characters. Many of them did match the illustrations in a Children’s Bible that we had.

I had not remembered that Grandma Hatch was there on my fourth birthday. I know we visited Grandma and Grandpa Hatch in Arizona at least once when Grandpa Hatch was alive. I was so proud that he was an ice cream man! (I’m not sure what the story there was. He had been a farmer most of his life, but had gone to Arizona for his emphysema.)

1968_06 Grandma Hatch

Here’s a picture in our yard in Kent, swinging on the swingset. That swingset is easy to remember, because we had it for years. Looks like it was new at this time.

1968_06 Swinging

And I think this necklace came from some beads I was given. Oh my goodness I am pleased with myself here! I do remember those wonderful beads, and you can see the pride in my eyes!

1968_06 Beads

Here’s a picture that shows the big front yard I remember from the house in Kent — simply enormous to a four-year-old. The blackberry bushes are on the other side of the alley (a gravel road). If I went near them, I got scratched from head to toe by the thorns. But those berries were very yummy.

1968_09 Front Yard

One Saturday, we’d all been shopping, and when we came to the top of the hill, there was a fire truck and lots of people standing in our yard. Very scary! It turned out, the blackberry bushes were on fire! But the firemen put it out, and there was a black patch after that. (I think the part in this picture, so it happened after this picture was taken.) I still remember that scary feeling of a fire truck being in our yard.

My Mom liked to take pictures of us when we got new clothes. I’m pretty sure this was taken when this coat was brand new.

1968_10 New Coat

And — 1968-69 was the year of the Big Snow!

1968_12 Big Snow

Mind you, I was four years old. I did not understand that snow like this didn’t happen every year in Seattle. All I knew was that my brother Ricky, in second grade, and my sister Becky, in first grade (Becky had been in Kindergarten for a week or two before she got promoted to first grade because she could read so well.) — got to come home early and even had days off school because of the snow. Their bus couldn’t make it up our hill, so all the school kids came walking up the hill through the snow! It was a memorable sight!

I was jealous that I didn’t go to school — so I could get out of school early because of snow. (How’s that for logic?)

(I never did get a snow day in my life until finally when I was an adult teaching college math in Illinois. I did get an earthquake day once in California, though.)

This also reminds me that my Uncle David, my Dad’s youngest brother, lived with us for awhile at this time. I know it was during the big snow, because we went to Kennebec Hill to go sledding. They had blocked it off from car traffic. Kennebec Hill was so steep, I was afraid that if I jumped when I was walking on this hill, I’d fall to the bottom of the hill.

I don’t think I did much sledding that night — too scary. (The sun goes down so early in Seattle in the winter, it probably wasn’t actually late at night. But it did get dark while we were still sledding. But I was scared of the steep steep hill.) But Uncle David took the sled and I remember watching him go down and down and down, really fast.

My sister Wendy was a toddler now:

1968_12 With Wendy

And that was the Christmas I got a doll that I loved very much.

1968_12 Doll

Now, my parents didn’t try to fool us about Santa Claus. My Mom probably thought she was being open and honest when she told me that Grandpa was Santa Claus and had given me the doll. Aunt Susie had sewn some doll clothes for her.

But then we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house after we opened presents. (I remember there was snow on the ground.) The thing that really puzzled me: If Grandpa was Santa Claus, why did he go back home after he came down the chimney and left the doll by the tree? Why didn’t he just wait and go back to Salem with us?

I do remember thinking Wendy was the cutest thing:

1968_12 Sisters

In fact, in my memories that turn out to be from that year, I have a big sense that a lot of my time was me and Mommy and Wendy (because Ricky and Becky were in school). I was the big sister, and it feels like that was the time in my life when I got the most one-on-one interaction with my Mom. (This makes a lot of sense — the family was only beginning.)

This picture reminds me that we had at least three child-sized chairs, which my Mom had owned as a child. This blue rocking chair was just right.

1969_01 Chair

And oh, the Fisher-Price toy camera! I loved that thing! You could look through one opening and see different colors, and through another and see “pictures.” When you pushed the button, it clicked and a flash cube turned! I guess it foreshadowed a lifelong love of taking pictures.

1969_01 Camera

And here’s a picture with Ricky, Becky, and Wendy, playing Ring-around-the-Rosie.

1969_01 Ring around the Rosie

I remember often hearing people tell my Mom, “But you look so young!” Now I think, “They were so young!” My Dad turned 30 that winter, and my Mom was 27. And they were about to have their fifth child.

Yes, my brother Randy was adopted in February, 1969. I don’t look too thrilled by that!

1969_02 Randy1

1969_03 Randy2

1969_04 Randy3

In fact, by Randy’s first Easter, I look a little fed up!

1969_04 Easter

Well, those are all the pictures I have for that year. The fun for me is how it brings back what it felt like to be four years old. And simple joys like beads and snow and music and ring-around-the-rosie.

Edited to add:
I was thinking more about the Little Marcy records and how much I liked to sing those songs. I liked the records best where the liner notes had the words to all the songs. I also had a Little Marcy songbook, which had the words to the songs from at least two of the records.

It’s funny to me that I have to remind myself that the little girl in the pictures could read fluently. And then I think — I bet that having the words to those songs really increased that fluency! Think about it: What better way to gain reading fluency than play songs over and over and over again and read along the words as you sing?

I also think it’s interesting that I still love playing Christian music and singing along. Maybe I don’t dance around the house as exuberantly — but I still love the way the words bolster my faith and my joy.

I am not sure when I asked Jesus into my heart, but I know that I did it at least once when living in Kent. (I say at least once — I did it more than once just to be sure I’d done it before.) Now that I’m seeing these pictures and finding out some things happened when I was so young — I think that may have been one of them.

Anyway, I’m a rule-follower by nature. So growing up in a Christian home, I was never in danger of being the Prodigal Son — I was always in danger of becoming a Pharisee.

But I also got some honest joy from singing about my faith. Even so very young.

Oh, and to my sister Marcy: This has reminded me that Mom loved the name “Marcy” as long ago as 1968! (Abby would have been “Marcy,” but when Dad found out that Abigail meant “Joy of her father,” Mom gave in to him.)

Project 52: Bonus Post with Pictures

July 10th, 2016

1966_06 Two Year Old Picture

Last month, on my 52nd Birthday, I began Project 52 — For 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect on the 52 years of my life.

Well, last week, covering my fourth year, I ran out of pictures that I had copied. Now, I’m going to my parents’ house at the end of this month, so I figure I can make some copies then, but I asked my Dad if he could tide me over.

He answered with an abundance of pictures from the years I plan to cover the next few weeks.

But thanks to my Mom’s meticulous dating of pictures, I discovered that some were from the years I’ve already covered, so I thought I’d post some of those here.

And I also remembered where I had stashed two pictures I blatantly stole from my parents’ house at some point in the past. One is the picture above, which was taken in honor of my second birthday.

Then this adorable family picture was taken when Baby Wendy was four months old. Isn’t Ricky’s bow tie so cute?

1968_02 Family Photo Cute

But then, lest we get smug about such cuteness, perhaps the photographer tried to get a shot with everyone looking serious? Whatever the motivation, I was having none of it! This photo cracks me up every time I look at it.

1968_02 Family Photo Funny

A picture that made me super happy to find was this one of me with my neighborhood friend Patty and our cat Zenie.

1968_05 Patty and Zenie

I was going to talk about Zenie next week — I hadn’t realized that we got her when I was still three years old.

Zenie was a stray cat, but she came with a note attached to his collar that said, “Please give me a home.” I loved her very much. I think I thought of her as my cat. I think that Ricky chose the name, coming from “Zebra,” because she was striped. Oh, and you can see our collie, Tiny Tim, peeking through the fence in back. I was a little afraid of Tiny Tim. But Zenie, I loved.

From the picture below, I’m not sure if the feeling was mutual!

1968_05 Zenie

There are also some nice Sibling Pictures:

1968_05 Three by Playpen

Now that Wendy was born, Ricky-Becky-Sondy had become “the Big Kids.”

1968_05 Three by Organ

And this one’s just priceless. I was one cool three-year-old!

1968_05 Miss Cool

And now expect many more pictures next week when I cover being Four Years Old. I’m having way too much fun with this! A big part of the fun is remembering what it was like to be that little person. I remember some odd things — putting on those clothes, feeling the soft kitty. I had completely forgotten how much I liked wearing necklaces. (To come!)

Project 52: Year 4 – Baby Sister!

July 5th, 2016

Three weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52 — for 52 weeks I’m reflecting on the 52 years of my life. (Plus a special bonus 53rd post on my 53rd birthday.)

YearFour

This week I’m looking at my fourth year, when I was three years old.

This year is memorable — because I remember it!

Mind you, the memories aren’t anchored in time. A three-year-old lives in the eternal now. But I can date some of these memories because this was the year my sister Wendy was born, in October 1967.

Here’s our family with my Mom clearly expecting Wendy sometime soon and hiding behind Ricky.

WendysComing

Ricky would be six years old in October. He was in first grade that year. Becky was four years old and not in school yet. I was three years old.

I do remember wanting to sit in my Mom’s lap for a story and her giving me a funny smile and saying the baby was in her lap — which didn’t make any sense at all!

But Wendy’s birth was much more vivid. We went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Salem, as we often did. But Daddy left us there! I remember being told that Daddy would come back and get us on Saturday, in seven days. And feeling slightly bereft.

But then I remember that actually we went back in Grandma and Grandpa’s car. My memory didn’t have that as actually seven days later or on Saturday — it was much, much later that I found out that my Mom missed her kids and asked for us to come back sooner (which no one bothered to explain to the three-year-old).

Anyway, I remember being in the front seat, probably on Grandma’s lap, and looking at the funny blue stripe at the top of the windshield. I’m pretty sure I did some lying down too and looking at the gray sky behind that blue windshield.

But the traumatic part of the journey was when we were almost home. Ricky said that when Daddy asked “Who is it?” we should say “Me!”

That worried me because how would Daddy know who it was if we did that?

Then — sure enough — we knocked and Daddy asked, “Who is it?” and Ricky and Becky answered, “Me!”

And, to my dismay, Daddy answered, “Sorry, but Mommy doesn’t want any Mes in the house.” But my dismay was short-lived because he opened the door and let us in and Mommy was lying on the sofa and there was this little baby in a little bed next to her.

It’s funny what sticks in a three-year-old head.

That was also the year I learned to read. My Mom would make flash cards with words on them to get us started. She did this later with younger kids, so I know from that how it works. Start with names of people in the family, and gradually get more difficult. Anyway, I remember one time she had me go get some cards I hadn’t been able to read the last time they came out — but I remember now that I could read them no trouble at all — the word on top was “yellow.” I can still see those cards in my mind with the word “yellow” written out. And it meant “yellow” just as much to me then as the word does now. I knew that word.

Ricky also brought home beginning readers from first grade. He could already read, so he didn’t need them. But I remember reading about Dick and Jane and Baby Sally. I especially liked Baby Sally. It probably helped that the word “Sally” was a lot like “Sondy.” And she had a big brother and big sister, too.

Years later when I was assigned those readers in school, I was appalled by how boring they were. I remembered them as delightful and fun! I think now it was the excitement of being able to read them, the discovery that comes from the unfolding of the words.

So — those are all the memories that I’m sure happened when I was three. There are many more memories from when we lived in the house in Kent — but probably more of them happened when I was four and five.

For those who are counting, my Mom still had three kids at home while Ricky was in school. And that’s with one of the largest gaps in the family between Wendy and me. Whew! (Becky and I, though, at 15 months apart, are the closest together of any siblings in our family.) But I have some fond memories of being the big girl at home the next year when Becky and Ricky were in school and Wendy and I were at home. But that’s for next week!

Independence Day

July 4th, 2016

Today’s Independence Day. It’s a day off, the end of a long weekend, and a good time to relax and think.

My son is with me — I’m planning to make a cake for his birthday today, since I’ll be out of town on his actual birthday at the end of the month. But he’s had a skype visit this past week with a possible roommate in Portland area, and he’s got a phone interview next week for a possible job in Portland — and he’s soon going to be Independent from me.

And that reminds me of Independence Day four years ago, when I finished reading the book Why We Broke Up and put away my wedding pictures and declared myself truly Independent from my ex-husband. Sadly, but with finality and a certain joy.

And now I am soon to be Independent of my son. Or him Independent of me.

I recently made an honest effort to get a job in Oregon to be closer to both my kids. I didn’t get it, and I had prayed hard about it, and I felt like God was saying that He has something for me here.

But, you know, I don’t actually want to be Independent!

At the same time, I know it’s good for me.

Something a friend said recently reminded me of one of the blows that struck when my husband left me. The way I knew I was lovable was that my husband loved me. When he left, I had to come to grips with the fact that I am still lovable.

And being Independent forced me to do that.

And some of the same things are at play if my kids aren’t close by, needing daily mothering.

My life is valuable because I’m needed, right? My life is significant because I am significant to them, right?

Now, I’ve had well-meaning friends say that I am lovable because God loves me because of Christ. Or that I am nothing without Christ, but that God looks at me and sees His Son, sees me as perfect in Christ.

Those ring hollow for me. I believe that God sees and loves me.

George MacDonald has some harsh words about the notion of “imputed righteousness.” God sees Truth when He looks at us. And He is actually building character in us, not just pretending that we are already righteous. But I do believe that as we love our children even when they haven’t matured yet, so with God. And as we love the quirky individuality of our children, so with God. And He knows that He is building our character.

I don’t want to be Independent. Attachment is good for people, and we are made for Community. I fought tooth and nail against my marriage ending — until God finally showed me He had something else for me.

But God is teaching me things in my current state of Independence, and that is good.

He’s teaching me that He loves me in all my quirks — I believe God loves my number nuttiness, my love of children’s books, and my excitement about spotting great blue herons, for example.

Yes, God sees all that I can be — but I believe that He loves the quirky uniqueness He created in me. I believe He loves even my childish baby steps toward becoming like Christ.

He’s showing me that I have things to contribute to the world, independent of my husband. (I was happy to accompany my husband around the world, just supporting his career.) He’s given me the gift of a career of my own, and one that I love.

And most of all, He’s saying to me,

Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.

I may be Independent. My kids may be Independent. But I am not alone.

Project 52: Year 3

June 28th, 2016

Two weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52: Each week for 52 weeks, I’m going to post a reflection on one year of my life.

It’s fun for me, because though as we live life, the years get shorter (since we have only our own life to compare time with) — it will be fun to lay it all out with each year getting equal time.

Now, I’m guessing as to when these pictures were taken. The date may be on them — but I copied them years ago and don’t have the originals. When I visit my parents in a month, I hope to find some more pictures. But I will choose the ones that look about right for that year.

Toddler1

(This picture confirms my belief that I always loved dollies (and babies)! Though perhaps I didn’t always take the best care of them.)

This week, I’m looking at my third year of life — when I was two years old, from June 1966 to June 1967.

That was the year we moved from the house in Seattle to the house in Kent — the first place I remember living. I have no way of dating most of those memories, so I can assume most of them were from a bit later.

But I swear I have a memory of the house in Seattle. What I remember matches what has been said about it. My Dad says they moved out of that house around June 1966 — before my brother Ricky started Kindergarten in September in Kent. (Ricky was going to be 5 years old in October, and they got him in early, because he could already read.)

Anyway, in my memory we were in front of a house with lots and lots of steps. We were moving away, but I went back inside to use the potty. (If I was actually being potty trained, I’m sure such a thing would have happened as the last thing before we left!) I remember all the rooms being empty and it all being very strange to me and being hurried in and out of the house and carried out to the car.

It may not be true — but I suspect it is. I don’t remember any sadness about moving, just some bewilderment and Mommy making it all seem rather momentous. There was no fear or wondering about the future. It’s a very living-in-the-moment memory. But I pieced together down the road that I really did have a memory of “the house in Seattle with lots of stairs.”

Toddler2

This picture is possibly from later, but that year I was two, Becky was three, and Ricky was four, going on five.

The house in Kent was also the first address I memorized (much later) — “one-one-three-one Seattle Street in Kent.” I believe the strong emphasis on in Kent was to clear up any confusion about living on Seattle Street.

It was a two-story house with a basement as well. Becky and I shared a big room upstairs. We had matching white dressers and bookcases and desks. (And you know what? I still have one of the bookcases!) Our bedroom window looked down into the side yard.

We had a big picture window in the living room, that reportedly had a view. I don’t remember much about that. Maybe because I was too short to enjoy it? There was a yellow kitchen. In the basement there was a ping-pong table where once or twice I saw my Mom and Dad play ping-pong. (Wow. That’s an old memory. I don’t think my Mom played ping-pong any in later years.)

We had an enormous (to me) green lawn in the front, a garage in the back with an attic, and a fenced yard in the back as well. Seattle Street came up a hill and around a bend right in front of our house (which is why we had a view). There was an alley in front of our front yard and blackberry bushes across the alley. If I ever went near the blackberry bushes (in later years), I got scratched to pieces by the thorns.

And now I’m definitely getting into later memories. Next year: My sister Wendy is born! My years as the spoiled youngest child (Yeah right, Rick!) were coming to an end.

“I Waited Patiently…”

June 25th, 2016

waiting_is_not_easy_largeI was thinking about Psalm 40 this morning. If you take out the word “patiently” — I feel like these verses are my testimony:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

I’ve been struck recently by how many times a friend will say they admire my patience — when I know that I’m not feeling even a little bit patient! They are so, so wrong!

But the fact is? Sometimes you have to wait — whether you’re patient or impatient doesn’t change that one little bit. So outsiders seeing you waiting — might think you’re being patient.

Now, I learned early as a Christian — never pray for patience! Because how does God build patience in you? We’d just love it if he would zap us with patience — make us instantly patient! (LOL) But the way to build patience in us — is to make us wait, to put us through long, excruciating trials. No matter how impatient we are, we will still have to wait — and maybe we’ll learn that impatience doesn’t speed things up one little bit.

Something that’s taken me longer to learn? When you’re tempted to pray for patience, pray instead to enjoy the moment. You’re going to have to wait — might as well enjoy it.

In this way I bring my knitting to long, boring meetings — a wonderful chance to knit! (And I listen better, honest!) I bring books to read on airplane flights — a chance to read! I listen to audiobooks during my commute — again, a chance to read!

When my kids were little and their antics tried my patience — well, now that they’re not little at all, I treasure that time in my mind. Lord, give me the grace to find the treasures in this moment.

Now, some things are much, much, much harder. I think of the things people told me I was waiting patiently about when I simply wasn’t — a 27-day headache, or waiting more than a year for them to fill a position that I so wanted, or other decisions I’ve had to wait for. Even in those times, how can I enjoy this moment?

With a headache, it’s a reminder of God’s grace just to get through the day. (That’s a start, anyway, a humble attempt to find something that redeems the moment.) When waiting for a decision about a big potential change, it’s a reminder to treasure the present moment before the change, to remember how much I love about where I’ve been.

That brings me back to Psalm 40. When I think of being in a slimy pit, I think of the years when my marriage was falling and had fallen apart. Make no mistake about it, it was a horrible time. I waited, but it was not very patiently.

I thought I was waiting for God to bring my husband back and restore our marriage. Turns out, I was waiting for God to heal my heart and bring me into a new phase of life and teach me that God is my rock — and set my feet on that rock and give me a firm place to stand.

And you know what? No matter how patient or impatient I am, that process takes time. God had a lot of work to do in my heart, and he couldn’t just zap me with those new qualities. He couldn’t just zap me with a knowledge of his faithfulness — He had to show me over time.

Now? I think I’m waiting for God to bring a new life partner into my life. I would love it if God would zap a new man into my life. And zap that guy into just the right partner for me.

But maybe God has something else in mind. And maybe he has work to do in my heart. And maybe he has work to do in that man’s heart. I don’t want someone for the sake of having someone. I’d like God to be involved. I’d like God to do some orchestrating about this one.

I’m clearly going to have to wait. (Unless, of course, God plans to zap someone into my life today. That would be fine, Lord!) Whether I wait patiently or impatiently won’t speed up the outcome. (Actually, when it’s a matter of the heart, patience might speed up the outcome.)

But my prayer is: How can I enjoy this moment? What is God doing in me now, today?

And how good it is that I can look back on my own life and say, “See! God has come through! I can put my trust in the Lord!” That’s something good that came out of all that awful waiting. I wouldn’t trade it, now.

Here’s to singing that new song.

Project 52: Year 2

June 21st, 2016

Baby2

Last week, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to begin Project 52: Each week for a year, I’m going to reflect in this blog on one year of my life.

My second year of life is probably the one I know least about. But I do have some cute pictures from approximately that time, so maybe that makes up for it.

Baby5

My brother Ricky was now 3 (4 in October), and my sister Becky was 2.

Right around my first birthday, our family moved from Maryland back to Seattle, where my parents met.

Family legend says that they drove across the country and visited Yellowstone — and my Dad fed a bear Ritz crackers right next to a sign that said, “Don’t Feed the Bears.”

So I’ve visited Yellowstone but have no memory of it, just like I have no memory of living on the East Coast and sight-seeing there.

They moved into the house in Seattle that they had been renting out while they were in Maryland. It was a house with lots of stairs in front, on a hill.

I believe I have one memory of that house, but it was probably after my second birthday, so I’ll include it in next week’s reflection.

Living in Seattle, my family often drove the couple hours to Salem to visit my Mom’s family. This must have been around that time, after they’d moved back to Seattle.

Salem1

This picture was taken in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Salem and features (left to right) my Mom’s little brother Allen and his wife Judy, sister Susan, then Mom holding me with Dad behind her, then sisters Donna and Linda in back with Ricky, Becky, and my Mom’s youngest brother Larry in front. Uncle Larry is one-day-less-than-a-year older than my brother Rick.

For those who are counting, my Mom was the oldest of six siblings, in two sets — three older and three younger. My Dad was the 9th of 12. So they were not strangers to big families. (I have a LOT of relatives.)

Here are a couple more pictures from approximately my second year.

Baby4

Baby6

(Huh. My hair curled in strange ways even then.)

Of all my siblings until the last two, Marcy and Melanie, I was the youngest the longest. My brother Rick used to explain that meant I was the most spoiled. I’m not convinced.

Stones of Help, Stones of Fire

June 14th, 2016

Today is my 52nd Birthday.

Because 52 is such a cool number, and because there are 52 weeks in a year, I’m embarking on Project 52 — reflecting each week on one year of my life.

I’ve also been thinking very much about Healing today.

Ten years ago this summer was when I left Germany, utterly brokenhearted, and moved to Virginia.

Now I am settling in — and I feel Healed. And that’s a wonderful thing.

And I was thinking about I Samuel 7:12, where Samuel sets up a stone as a monument to God’s help. He names it “Ebenezer,” which means “Stone of Help,” and says, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped.”

Today I planned to go to Great Falls, which I did, and pick up a stone to remind me of God’s help. I have some other stones. This one (actually I picked up two) is going to represent Healing.

Here are the stones I chose along with some souvenir playing cards from places I loved. (I played some solitaire tonight using 52 cards at a time. It’s appropriate!)

BirthdayStones

But, rather more amazing — this morning I checked my doorstep (I’d forgotten to check last night), and there was a birthday package! It contained a gift from my generous friend Lauri Ann of beautiful opal earrings.

Opals are special to me because one of my favorite books as a kid was a book written by missionary Isobel Kuhn called Stones of Fire. In it, she compares a Lisu tribeswoman to a fire opal. She talks about how the colors of the opal come from pressure and brokenness.

I love that thought. As I’m thinking about Healing — I declare that my healed broken heart is part of what makes me beautiful.

So my Stones of Fire are also my Stones of Help. They speak to how far God has brought me — and that He has not only Healed me, He used those awful times to make me beautiful.

Three years ago when I went to Great Falls on my birthday, the many great blue herons I saw represented Great Blue Herons of Happiness.

This year, they were back!

GreatBlueFalls1

So the walk in great falls was about Healing and Happiness both.

GreatBlueFalls2

We got amazing views of many, many herons.

GreatBlueFalls3

And here I am modeling my Stones of Fire that represent Healing, with a Great Blue Heron of Happiness behind me.

Opal

Hitherto hath the Lord helped!