Archive for June, 2016

Project 52: Year 3

Tuesday, 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…”

Saturday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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!

52 Weeks in a Year…

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

I’m 52 today!

As a Numbers Person, I think 52 is very cool — we use it a lot in probability, because it’s the number of cards in a standard deck. So I played some solitaire with my souvenir playing cards from Ireland and Britain and Germany.

52_cards

But I’ve decided to start on a project. There are 52 weeks in a year, and I just finished 52 years of life.

I thought it would be fun, each week in the next year, to reflect on one year of my life.

So tonight, on my birthday, I’m going to talk about my first year.

Baby1

I was born on Flag Day in Washington, D.C. My family lived in Maryland, in what is now Columbia, was then called Ellicott City. My Mom was 23 and my Dad was 25. So young! Yet they already had two kids, Ricky, who was not yet 3 years old, and Becky, who was 15 months old.

My parents met in Seattle, attending Seattle Pacific College, and only lived in Maryland a few years, long enough for Becky and me to be born. It’s kind of funny that I ended up living out here as an adult. I didn’t remember the East Coast at all from babyhood, of course.

I checked with my Dad, and they moved away from Maryland after I was a year old. So that first year was on the East Coast. I found out tonight that they did some sight-seeing when they found out they wouldn’t be staying — so I have been to places like Skyline Drive and Monticello, even though I didn’t remember.

My Dad worked at Johns Hopkins Jet Propulsion Lab, and my Mom was a stay-at-home Mom, who always did think it was a terrible thing for women to work.

She told me a story about when I was very small.

She was quite overwhelmed with 3 kids under 3, and had been asking God Why she had to have all these kids (sort of a George Bailey “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment.) The next day, I fell down the basement steps in my walker and cried for a solid hour. She held me and said, “God, I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it!”

I think she told me that story to let me know I was loved and wanted. (I’m not sure if it completely had that effect, but I appreciate the intention!)

I also want to reflect in these posts about how God had his hand on me. My parents met at a Christian college. I was born on a Sunday, the day after my Mom had spent the day at a church picnic. (I was the only one of my Mom’s kids born on my due date.) They both love the Lord and brought us to church every Sunday morning and evening, and often Wednesday nights as well. So my first grace came by the family I was born into — they introduced me to Jesus.

I don’t know how old I was in this picture, but it looks like somewhere around a year old.

I was ready for a wonderful life!

Baby3