Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pete and Sarah

Years fly by, and memories fade a little, but they seem to get sweeter with time. It is a gift to remember people you have known, even if your time together was short.

It's a gift to sit with older people and listen to their stories. I am grateful for the wealth of wisdom they have shared with me over the years. I spent summers as a teenager volunteering in the hospital, sitting by many bedsides reading to folks, listening to music, playing games, reminiscing. On the surface of things, I was doing them a service. But in reality, they were giving me a gift. That was a very formative experience in my life.

A little later on in my teenage years, I began cleaning house for an elderly couple in my church. They were still fairly independent, but they needed someone to touch up the house, so they said. First, they were immaculate housekeepers, so there wasn't much to touch up. Second, they probably were yearning for someone to spend time with them. So I did. Looking back, I see what a gift that was, not for them, but for me.

They were quiet people, but so full of stories. I heard many times about how they got engaged. He gave her a watch instead of a ring, and they would chuckle about how he would always ask her what time it was just to get her to admire that watch. We would sit together with our iced tea (that was so, so good and southern sweet!), and I would listen to their stories of seminary, raising kids, pastoring a church, and all in between.

Pete and Sarah, those were their names. They loved each other so much. I loved observing their aged, seasoned marriage, tested by time and proven true. As I was on the cusp of my own marriage, they gave me the gift of example that I cherish to this day.

I admired their attention to detail. As I said, their house was always neat. They were very methodical, orderly, and thrifty. Sarah had a sewing machine. I never saw her use it, but I know she did. She would make her clothes and things around the house. That doll in the picture above came from her. The stitching is perfect, and I am sure it was made from some scrap of something she had. They are both gone now, but I am grateful to have something she made to remind me of the time we shared together.

As I sit stitching this and that, night after night, I sometimes wonder if it is a luxury I can't afford. Time is precious. But you can't put a price on the things you make and give. When I look at the things I have from those I love, I see that their time and creativity is a priceless gift money could never buy. Those things spark my memory, warm my heart (and body), and remind me of their love.

Hug. xo

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Heart Cries

We have often said that our best friends are the ones who live in the books on our shelves. If that is true, we have a myriad of them. Our shelves sag with books we have collected over the years. One special collection, probably my favorite (besides my music scores) is our shelf of missionary biographies. They have shaped us and inspired us to strive for spiritual maturity and lives of unselfish service. If I want to know how to be a better wife or mother, I know to go to my Bible first, and then to a biography of someone who has lived the life and walked the path. Susannah Wesley, the prayer warrior. The wives of Adoniram Judson (he was bereaved 2 times).  Elisabeth Elliot, wife of a martyr. The wife of Jonathan Edwards. Betty Stam, martyred for her faith. Unmarried missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Isobel Kuhn. And the list goes on. Looking past our theological differences (there are many everywhere you turn), it is good to get to know them as sisters in Christ who lived fully and faithfully. I want to be like them.

We have many brothers to speak to us as well. Hudson Taylor, pioneering missionary to China.  Adoniram Judson, who endured unspeakable torture at the hands of the Burmese to whom he preached. John Paton, missionary to cannibals. The five men who were murdered by the Auca Indians in Ecuador. They gave all, nothing held back, no regrets. I want to be like them.

But here I am in my warm, comfortable house. I am not suffering for my faith like they did. I am fairly certain there will be food on my table tomorrow. For years I have imagined and hoped that maybe God would call me to serve somewhere far away. He hasn't. He has put me here, today, right now, to serve in this place. Changing diapers. Washing dishes. Reading picture books to my kids. Scrubbing the floor. Helping my husband. That is my mission field, and it is no less important than Burma or China or Ukraine.

Still, I feel that tug at my heart strings to give all, no matter what. Be sold out for Jesus. Don't squander time away. We are only given one life; live it without regrets, attempting great things for God. Great things might look mundane, but don't be deceived. What's done for Jesus will last an eternity.

Wherever you are, be all there
--Jim Elliot

No reserves, no retreats, no regrets.
--William Borden

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
--Jim Elliot

 Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.
--William Carey

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sing a Song of Songda

I have heard Seattle weather compared to a beautiful woman who is often sick. But when she is well, she is decked out in her finest clothes and is stunningly beautiful. The stunning beauty was last week. Absolute flawless perfection.

And then the rains came. And the all-but-promised forecast of the worst windstorm in 10 years. Her name was Songda, not the gorgeous blue-skied woman of last week, but a threatening and boisterous typhoon rolling in from the Pacific Ocean.

Our town was a flurry of grocery shoppers, gas lines, last-minute generator purchases, and a run on D-batteries. Because, folks, the power was certainly going to go out. Possibly for days.

On Friday, when the rain let up for a while, I took a walk just to take in the eerie beauty, the strange calm before the storm we were told was going to probably be bad, maybe very bad.

I baked and cooked and washed clothes, froze what meat I had in the refrigerator to try to preserve it as long as possible. And we all prayed. We prayed the lights would stay on, that the storm would just dissipate, even though looking at the radar models, this storm looked threatening and scary.

I had friends checking into a hotel, taking no chances that they would be home to experience the frightening wind that hit them 10 years ago. We had friends visiting from other states and countries last week, and some of them were booking earlier flights home to avoid the storm.

This is the Saturday afternoon sky, an hour before the storm was set to roll into Seattle, strange patches of blue and still that ominous calm. We waited...

And waited...

And here is the survey of the damage. Unbelievable.

No one can explain it. The weather forecasters are scratching their heads. And those of us who prayed  to God know exactly why that storm fizzled out. God is kind and merciful. We deserved every bit of that wind and its destruction, but He stopped it in its tracks. He heard those prayers and commanded those winds to be still.

I had a friend recently go through a similar "stormy" experience, this time with a child's health. We all prayed for her impending major surgery, that it would be successful, that she would heal, all the common things we ask in that situation. But we didn't think to pray that God would just remove the issue altogether. Doctors went in to do the surgery, and the problem had completely disappeared. Why didn't we ask Him to do that in the first place? Why are we stingy with our prayers?

I take this away: we should not be afraid to ask God to do specific things! He is not small, He is not deaf to our requests, and He is not a scolding Father if we are faithful children. He is delighted with our prayers. So pray away, in faith that He will do great things!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Glow and Gloom

Now is the time to dance.

The harvest is almost gathered in.

I watched these pinecones bud and mature over the summer. Now they make me think of Christmas, especially paired with the holly berries we find close beside them.

I am hunkering down with this quilt, beginning to hand quilt it now.
I am done hand basting. Once I got the hang of it, it went quickly. I hope it is worth the extra time I put into it.

I am not an expert hand quilter. I sat down tonight and started on it. It goes pretty quickly too once you get the motion down.

I enjoy listening to my son read aloud to me every day. He is improving so quickly.

This particular page really got to me, where it says that "school must be safe because so many children went there." This was the day after tragedy struck a school very near my hometown, and a child lost his life because of someone's senseless violent anger. My mother's heart breaks for what happened. We can't shelter them everywhere all the time, but I am glad to have my kids close to me.

The clouds are rolling in, and with the sun they cast their autumn glow and gloom on the world below them.

Now is the time to dance.

We are safe and warm and fed. Thank you, God.