My dad is…

humble. That is the first thing that came to mind when I settled in to write this…strangely though, it’s almost as if it wasn’t in my mind until the pen hit the paper, but now that I look at it, there is nothing that I could write that better describes how I think of my dad. I think that’s how inherent it was. He is not perfect, but what he is is a hard worker, a faithful family man and so sincere in his relationship with the Lord. When my dad is struggling with something, he does not attempt to veil it from his family. He is open and honest, but also keeps it to himself. It is a hard balance to find, but I hope I someday can reach that balance with the success my dad has. My dad is a pillar in our community, even if it’s behind the proverbial scenes most of the time. He is a man of service. As an English teacher and coach at Weed High School (get your snickers over with, please…) he pours his best into students and shows genuine care for them. He inspires them and challenges them. I’ve heard many people say they have, at one point or another, been scared of my dad during their high school career (definitely more than one point if they played football), but I always sense it is a healthy fear built out of respect. Even though I never had the privilege of having my dad as my teacher, I thank God that he is my dad. I would take that over teacher any day.

My dad also has faithfully served in and through our church for many years. He is respected and loved by the people there. I am so so thankful for that. I’ve also seen my dad serve our family and make sacrifices for us so many times. He stood by our grandparents (my mom’s parents) through their battles with cancer and eventually in death. Never out of obligation, but always out of pure love and honor for them. Grandpa Gerry and Grandma Ruth loved him like a son. What a special thing for a daughter to witness! That has taught me so much and I know I am still learning from it. That love, care and service by my dad has lasting implications for his children. My dad and his dad are also extremely close, as he was with his mom before Nonni passed away about a year ago. Not only has that allowed me to have a dear, close relationship with all my grandparents, but it taught me how to treat my own parents. I aspire to be like my dad in many ways, but especially in that. These lessons are invaluable.

I often have memories of my dad triggered by little things. If someone asked me, what is a special memory of you and your dad from your childhood, the following memory would would move at lightning speed to the front of my mind. Our living room at our old house on Oregon Street, dimly lit by lamplight – Carla and me in dad’s thin, worn, softest-ever Sac State t-shirts that go down to our knees – Keith Green blaring on the big silver stereo with huge silver knobs – dad singing all the words (even the silly spoken parts) to “Letter to the Devil” – Mom is away at choir practice so naturally dad lets us (sometimes even lifting us up himself) onto the coffee table to dance – total freedom! Next memory. We are at Lake Siskiyou or Medicine Lake – dad bends down underwater so far I think he might drown and puts me on his shoulders – then he springs up and sends me jetting into the water – I always know it’s coming but it’s constantly a surprise. Cut to dad walking down the aisle of the church in overalls and a straw hat as the Prospector in a VBS skit – he slowly and carefully repeats one of his most memorable lines, one that will go down in history, in his perfected wobbly, crotchety old man voice: “Deeeeeeear Diry.” I still ask him to say that line sometimes, but he only does it when he’s in the right mood or can conjure up the voice, so when it does happen I treasure that morsel and let it tide me over for quite some time. I pull up images of my dad leading VBS outings of rambunctious jr. highers to waterfalls and caves, dealing with crying girls and yellow-jacket stung boys. I see him packing our van beyond capacity with camping gear every summer before our beloved family trips. I see him playing three flies up with us, teaching us how to throw a football or hiking Mt. Eddy… patiently allowing us to swim. in. every. lake. on the way up.

I’ve fought with my dad many times, but somehow those aren’t the memories that stick at all. It’s like trying to get oil to stick to velcro.

Once, driving as a family in our van, we passed a boy on the street that I had a crush on. He had a crush on me too and we had been having “secretive” communication that year. It was the first boy who ever had shown a serious interest in me and I naively thought my dad had noooo idea about it. When we saw him on the street, I probably blushed. My dad spoke into the silence of that moment and said, to his four daughters but really to me, “girls I want you to learn to guard your hearts.” It was one simple sentence but it has had a heavy impact on my life. I often hear those words sounding in my head, and I am so grateful for that.

Thanks for making me proud to be your daughter, dad. I love you!

I also got my eye-closing-in-every-picture ability from dad, I think.
<– My dad and me at the Summit of Mt. Eddy. I also received my eye-closing-in-every-picture ability from dad, I think.

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Spill

I know it’s been ages since I’ve written. I don’t know what’s stopped me. Well, yes I do. Everything else that could possibly grab my attention stopped me. It’s a little devil (yes, devil) I like to call procrastination. It starts out slow, but once it grows it can become quite the enemy. Why is it so hard to pick up my weapon (i.e. my pen and/or keyboard) and fight it? Anyway. Whenever I force myself to write again I never really have a topic in mind… so I will just catch you up on my life and write out whatever comes to mind. I hope it’s not too boring for you.

It’s been snowing here in Bend lately – lovely, white, fresh flakes falling from the sky. I absolutely love it, because, after all, what is winter without snow? I absolutely adore being able to enjoy each season for its unique aspects and snow is definitely winter’s unique aspect (for me, anyway. You might enjoy the ice… who knows? The only way I enjoy ice in the winter is if it is in the form of an icicle.) You see… fall has crisp air and colorful leaves. Spring has a delicious fragrance in the air, warm rains and blooming flowers. Summer has, well, the sun and its glowing golden warmth… and swimming and camping. Winter has snow. Comparatively, winter has a much shorter list of uniqueness than all the other seasons, but it’s a big one and thank God we have it to get us through an otherwise dreary season. It really makes up for everything. Scraping my car, freezing cold hands for months on end, runny noses, slipping on icy surfaces, fish tailing in my car… you get the picture.

I painted my fingernails bright pink this weekend, to make up for the dismal weather. It really is a rather useful mood booster. You see, last Wednesday I woke up to a quiet, soft covering of snow, which muted the scenery outside and made everything pure. It was so light and fluffy that if not for the cold, I may have mistaken it for the filling of a down comforter. In fact, I probably could have blown on my car and had it flit off my windshield with no trouble at all. But then came the temperature change… and the (cringe, I almost don’t want to say it) rain. (dum dum dum) It washed away all my lovely white! It turned it into slush and mud and puddles and in the morning there were nothing but ugly globs of frozen dirty frozen slush all over the ground. It crunched under my feet, mocking me cruelly with the reminder of what lay there yesterday: a soft blanket much kinder to my feet. Silly rain. It was like a slap in the perfect complexion of winter’s face.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love rain. I really, really, really do. I just don’t like it when it comes with the sole purpose of ruining my snow. There really is something exhilarating about having the rain pour down so hard that you are drenched if you walk outside for more than thirty seconds. I love hearing the trees thrash and seeing the shadows of the angry branches move across my wall. I love hearing the wind whistle outside and wonder… what if that tree thrashed juuuust enough to come down hard on my little roof? The possibility of danger is exhilarating. Why is that? Why do I like to be scared? The excitement of a storm is just another thing I love about winter, rain or snow or ……….even frozen rain. (Did you sense my hesitancy in adding that last bit?)

Well enough about the weather. Another thing that’s been on my mind lately is how much I miss my little brother JB. I call home and talk to him on my lunch breaks as much as I can, but as a boisterous seven year old, it’s hard to keep his attention on the phone for long. If I want to listen to him (which is quite different than a conversation), I just bring up Legos or battle droids or Batman. Then I’m in for a detailed account of what he’s been scheming with Dan lately, or the battle he just had with the meanest heavily armored robot in the world (aka Carla), and how he defeated her with “no trouble at all, KK.” After he’s finished with his lively explanations, he says something like, “weeeelllll KK I’m just gonna hand you off to Mary now. BYE!” And before I can say a thing, I hear mom, with a slightly caught-off-guard tone in her voice. “Karen? Um…. Sorry about that.” I really love that boy and I wish I could see him a lot more than I do. I’m thinking about going home for a weekend soon for just that reason! Whenever I see him he gives me a “JB hug” which must surpass the standard set by the last JB hug I received. It consists of him running toward me at full speed, jumping up into my arms, wrapping his arms and legs around me as tight as he possibly can and squeezing until he is red in the face. Recently he added a kiss to each of my cheeks and to my forehead. I wonder what the next new and improved JB hug will be like. I love him to the farthest undiscovered planet and back, to borrow one of his many beloved expressions.

I guess I can wrap this post up by saying that winter brings many good things, and I am trying to acknowledge them all in order to keep that set as my default perspective.

Why I love Ellie (rabbit trails included)

My sister Ellie came to visit me this weekend. It’s great, because she just called me on Friday and said, “Hey! What would you think about me coming up there this weekend?”  Spontaneous! I immediately became very excited for several reasons. #1 – it’s Ellie! She’s my sister and I love her. #2 – I had something very tangible and extremely close on the horizon to look forward to. My mind instantly began to plan where we would go to dinner that night, what movie we might see (rabbit trail: we went to see The Big Year with Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson – three actors I find pretty amusing. However, the movie was not as great as I hoped it would be. Maybe I’m too used to flashy comedy or witty lines, but this movie just didn’t deliver for me. In fact, Ellie and I have started practicing our answer if anyone asks about it. Here’s a hypothetical scenario for you: random person asks me, “How was that movie The Big Year?” Me: “It was um, forgettable.” That answer could be misleading depending on how close together you say the words ‘um’ and ‘forgettable’, but  I just feel bad dissing that trio of actors, so it seems like the most polite option. My recommendation, don’t see it. I think we probably should have watched Mondyball instead. Really, what were we thinking?). #3 – I knew I could drag her on a hike today, which I did. She will hopefully post pictures on facebook when she gets home so you can see how amazingly spectacular it was! I shouldn’t say drag, because she was very willing to go. She’s a hiker at heart. All four of us are, really. (rabbit trail: I love having three sisters! I know I take it for granted sometimes, but they are my very best friends in the whole world and it’s just great how we all get along even if we fight. Really, we do fight, I don’t live in a fairy tale sister world, but when the worst is over we are never worried that we might not talk to each other again. And I don’t say that lightly. We’ve had some things happen to us that other people with weaker bonds may not have survived. But our bond is strong and I think it makes us even closer.) #4 –  I was excited to see Ellie because she and I have a very similar sense of humor. Okay, so I didn’t really think of that the minute she called me, but I didn’t want to break my list pattern. But this really is turning into a ‘why I love Ellie’ blog – which I think she’ll be okay with. What? I just ended a sentence with a preposition – hate that I did that, too lazy to fix it. Okay, back to Ellie’s sense of humor. Take right now for instance. Ellie and I are at Starbucks and she’s studying anatomy, specifically the anatomy of the eye. All of a sudden she looks up from her notes and says (pretty loud, because she can project even when she’s not aware she’s projecting…) Sphincter pupillae?? I started laughing because, well, if you don’t know what your sphincter muscle is, then google it. Then just think about how that second word sounds. It was funny. Once she realized what she said we both craaaaacked up and I love that. I mean, I know a lot of people would think that’s funny, but I love the connection that takes zero communication. She looked up and saw me laughing and we both just knew. Also people watching is fun with her because I just look at her and say “what do you think that situation is?” and we immediately go to a crazy place that we have to suppress in public places. This blog could possibly be longer, but I really just feel like I’m rambling, and we do have to get to Target. Obviously that takes priority.

Numbered Wanderings

You number my wanderings, put my tears into your bottle…

…Are they not in your book? When I cry out to you, then my enemies will turn back. This I know, because God is for me. ((Psalm 56.8))

  • I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears. ((Psalm 34.4))
  • Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. ((Psalm 34.19))
  • Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning – yes! more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy and with him is abundant redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. ((Psalm 130))
  • Give thanks to the Lord for he is good! And his mercies endure forever. ((Psalm 136.1))
  • “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side” Let Israel now say – if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us, then the waters would have overwhelmed us. The stream would have gone over our soul, then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who has not given us s prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers, the snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. ((Psalm 124))
  • Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! ((Psalm 107.2))

When you said ‘seek my face,’ my heart said to you, your face Lord, I will seek. ((Psalm 27.8))

Unseen Reality

Hello few and dear readers! Lately I’ve found myself a bit uninspired. Does that happen a lot? It seems like it. But I guess who lives inspired 100% of the time? I guess what I’m trying to say, is that tonight I was flipping through some old books and came across The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer. I absolutely love this book – it’s so meaty you could chew on it for years. I re-read some quotes that stuck out to me and inspired me (there you go!), so I thought, no harm in posting them and maybe your curiosity will be roused, your faith challenged, or simply reaffirmed and re-energized. I hope God reaches out to you in some way through Tozer like he does me.

A. W. Tozer

My soul follows hard after You: Your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8)

“Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which, briefly stated, means that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man… We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit…. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him… Out pursuit of God is successful because he is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us.”

“…We read [the Bible] as the record of what God said when He was for a brief time in a speaking mood. With notions like that in our heads, how can we believe? The facts are that God is not silent; has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us, put into familiar human words. I think a new world will arise out of the religious mists when we approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking... A word of God once spoken continues to be spoken, as a child once born continues to be alive, or a world once created continues to exist. And those are but imperfect illustrations, for children die and worlds burn out, but the Word of our God endures forever. If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with the notion that it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience. It is more than a thing; it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God.”

“Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”

At the root of the Christian life lies belief in the invisible. The object of the Christian’s faith is unseen reality.

“While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance! The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One.”

“The Word of God affects the hearts of men as light in the soul. In the hearts of all men the light shines, the Word sounds, and there is no escaping them.”

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”

Cousin Jim

Highlight of my day. (Some names are changed for privacy.)

He enters abruptly with his spindly extremities and generous belly. My startled head turns over my shoulder to meet his stare. He extends his head directly out from his body like a chicken about to peck and announces himself: “Cousin Jim.”
He adjusts his oversize sunglasses. “I just had my eyes dilated… you’re there somewhere,” his arms stretched straight in front of him, motioning back and forth.
“Can I have a seat? I have pulmonary issues.”
“Oh please, Cousin Jim,” I say. “Pull up a chair.”
“I’m taking a class that teaches me how to breathe better. eat better. LIVE HEALTHY!” Each statement is emphasized, because he’s not sure I’m absorbing the weight of what he’s saying. “Ah, psh.” He tosses his hand at me. “It’s taught by two young girls – what do they know?” He sighs.
“You know how I’m related to the doctor?” Bypassing all small talk, he launches into a detailed explanation of the family tree, making sure I know who is related to who, and how… not excluding Aunt Matilda. Seven kids produced forty kids! Man alive. Well, you know, they’re Catholics.
But Cousin Jim doesn’t hang around. He’s gone almost as quick as he came.
Preceding his exit, he rotates his head toward me, “Where is the Heart Center?” But before I can utter a word, he stops me with his palm. “No, DON’T TELL ME! I can find it. I have half an hour to get there from here. You know what these hallways are good for? Exercise!” Then he whispers, “It’s better than the mall. People don’t try to run you down.”
And he’s gone.

Unfulfilled

Sun browns white skin
Through the glass
Crisp leaves crunched
Through the glass
Snowflakes melt sweet on warm tongues
Through the glass
Hot sand warms toes
Through the glass
Salty sea breeze kisses cheeks
Through the glass
Smiles exchanged
Through the glass
Laughter shared
Through the glass
Hands intertwined
Through the glass
Lips touch lips
Through the glass
Vows exchanged
Through the glass
Children play
Through the glass
Lives change
Through the glass
Hungry fed
Through the glass
Homeless welcomed
Through the glass
Motherless cared for
Through the glass
Fatherless protected
Through the glass
Sick tended to
Through the glass
My dreams perform
Through the glass
You out there! Turn – what do you see?
A life unlived
Through the glass