Category Archive: Hope

Finding Treasures

Yard work – check. The large, ribbed periwinkle pot we took over to our new house has been replaced with a terracotta and green pot which looks inviting. Redwood chips were put down today, giving the new flowers a finishing touch. “Coming Soon” signs are up at the bottom of the hill and at our driveway, indicating our house will soon be on the market.

Packing – check. We have about 120 boxes packed so far. Today Don packed up his CD collection, players and sound, as well as technology items from inside the house. Yesterday Grace and I packed about 16 boxes, a new record!

I’ve emptied the credenza and most of our armoire; and will load wardrobe boxes from the moving company on Wednesday.

And I found a buried treasure yesterday! In going through shoe-boxes, one of which was filled with paperwork of Don’s, I found his wedding vows to me. I’ve been looking for those for about eight years, the length of our marriage. What he committed to me that day (and has lived out since) was so meaningful that I was sad I couldn’t find the written copy to have it in full. And there it was! I think this whole move may have been worth it just to find that gem! And finding it reminded me where our real treasure lies…in the love of God, family and friends, and the memories of those precious, irreplaceable moments in our lives.

Saturday we worshipped in our much-loved church, Twin Lakes in Aptos; we enjoyed pizza afterward with a group of friends whom we’ll miss!

But we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Through this long summer of packing and prepping, through a remodel and sale prep, God has been with us as he promised. While at times we’ve both been exhausted and a bit short, for the most part Don and I have supported and upheld and encouraged each other in our various responsibilities.

So another new season is about to begin. A new home, new neighborhood, finding a new church and fellowship and shopping and doctors and dentists…being nearer my mother and several other family members…having less property to care for and hopefully more time to write and also to take off together (and with Paigey) for the day, or to sit and watch the local wildlife from our back patio (bobcats, wild turkeys, deer…). More time to be still and enjoy our God, the beauty of his creation, and each other. The REAL treasures!

We look forward to what this new season will bring!

How about you? Finding, or reveling in, any treasures lately?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

Complaints–or Gratitude?

Thankfulness–I’ve been remiss! I realized this morning in our church service that I’ve been grousing about our move, the effort and time it is taking, etc., etc., etc. I’ve been only half-joking when I say I hope I don’t have to move again until I transfer to heaven. Instead of complaining, I should be thankful. And I am. Let me count the ways:

  • I’m thankful we have a lovely home and are able to move into another beautiful spot for a new season of life. Many do not have the option to live anywhere other than where they are.
  • I’m thankful for my darling husband, whose birthday is today. We celebrated with tapas at our local Tortilla Flats. We’ve been married eight wonderful years and are both still active and enjoying life together. I cannot imagine trying to make this move alone!
  • I’m thankful we had the opportunity to choose where we will live.
  • I’m thankful for family and friends who love, pray for, and help us along the way! As I write this, one of our friends is on the scaffold my hubby built to put on our truck bed in order to power wash our house prior to putting it on the market. Other friends have helped me pack. I’m deeply thankful for many who are giving of their time and energy to help us prepare for our move.
  • I’m thankful we can give things away that we no longer need, and hope they will bring joy or help to others. I think one of the blessings of moving is sorting, determining what is still important or necessary, and saying “Thanks and goodbye” to the rest. There are so many in need. We can help some by what we do with our excess.
  • I’m thankful we will have less to deal with in our new home. “Stuff” can weigh us down emotionally, physically, spiritually.
  • I’m thankful for the memories we’ve built here, the friends we’ve made, the family and people needing respite whom we have been privileged to host and learn from, and the beauty that surrounds us in the foothills near Santa Cruz. And I look forward to the new memories we will create in The Villages.
  • I’m thankful we’ll be nearer my mother, brother and two nephews; and one of Don’s sons. While it will take time to unpack and settle in, we will relax a bit more, take more walks together, and have less property to care for.
  • I’m thankful for a wonderful church, Twin Lakes in Aptos, which we’ve been part of for the past six years.  Both Don and I were touched this morning as Pastor Rene gave a very clear update about the safety of children in the church’s Sunday school as well as K-8 classes. We grieve at news about children becoming victims of teachers and assistants and even church workers. Rene wanted to ensure that parents, grandparents, perpetrators, and the church know that Twin Lakes will not only not cover up any reported abuse but will expose it to the proper authorities for investigation and justice; that our children WILL be safe in the TLC environment. Having known of situations in which predatory behavior was overlooked or covered up, I’m deeply grateful for a church that stands for righteoussness and truth in EVERY area. We will miss so much about this church but trust God will lead us to one closer to our new home where we can learn and serve.

    New children’s building we helped with at TLC

  • Photo by Tong Nguyen van on Unsplash

    I’m thankful we don’t move often! (chuckle)

    It’s easy to get mentally overloaded with too much to do, to think of, to follow up on, and allow the really important things to slide–quiet times with God, walks with loved ones, playing ball with Paigey. Then I need to take inventory, review my priorities and start to say no, whether to activities, to deadlines, to busyness.

I choose to be thankful.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

“He sets the Lonely in Families…”

As we hosted our grandniece Savannah last weekend, she, Don and I talked a great deal about missions. Savannah felt God’s call five years ago. Since then she has gone on several interim mission trips and continued her nursing in preparation to go overseas, her commitment remaining strong. Together we delighted over a mouth-watering Thai dinner of Fresh Spring Rolls, Tom Kha (coconut soup), Panang Curry, Broccoli Beef, and brown rice. The next morning we breakfasted at home with bacon and eggs, rolls and fruit. We laughed a lot and enjoyed worshiping together. Don and I shared our love story, and Savannah told us how she is preparing for her ministry assignment. It didn’t seem we would ever run out of things to talk about.

Later Sunday evening we met members of my family, including my New York niece, Nicholee and her son Calum, who is entering his senior year of high school. They were in California exploring film schools, Calum’s interest. What a delight to catch up on the lives and future plans of these two, whom we last saw four years ago.

And yesterday Mom and I attended a baby shower for my niece Janae, who is expecting her and Leon’s first child in November. Our family continues to grow and diversify. Between both sides of our families we have members from New York to South Carolina to Virginia to Texas, Idaho, Colorado, Kansas, here in California, and in Canada – and in future, in other parts of the globe. I’m grateful God has put us in families. He created us to be in community, understands our need for companionship, and provides that in more than one way.

I’m thankful that God’s children, those who are Christ-followers, are another kind of family, one of faith in the blood and redemption of Jesus! Even those without traditional “family” members can still be a part of a family, a community of faith. And within that community we can hopefully find the kind of support, affirmation and love we hope to find in our natural families. No, God’s family members aren’t perfect – far from it, matter of fact. But we’re forgiven and so are also learning to forgive and love each other along a common path. Psalm 68:6 says “God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”

Family Reunion in 2012

My family has loved and supported me through all the seasons of my life: childhood, schooling, college, ten years of ghetto ministry, marriage at the age of 36 and widowhood at 57; and remarriage at 62. They traveled across the country to support my late husband and me while he was trying to recover from a transplant. And while two brothers helped me carry Jerry’s ashes back home after he passed into the waiting arms of Jesus, two walked me toward my new husband, Don, and a new life five years later.

We’ve had our disagreements, some significant. But we’ve loved each other enough to work through those and to value relationship over “same thinking”. I love both my natural and my faith-families.

So what’s the best part about the family(ies) you’re in?

May God be with you in whatever relationships you are experiencing; and with those of you sending your children off to another year of school. Hold them close, and teach them to fly!

P.S. I told you I’d let you know what color we chose for the living and dining rooms of our new home (move to come in two and a half weeks). It’s a beautiful aqua grey–and as our realtor pointed out to me, almost exactly the same color I’ve been wearing on my fingernails recently. I guess I’m consistent!

A Riot of Color!

I studied the color on the wall. Beautiful, but … a little strong? While our painter called it grey-green, I saw grey-green-blue. It was darker than I had thought from the 2×2 paint chip–but striking. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted it lighter, or liked the drama of the deeper color, a very different look than we have with our current pastel-colored walls. So I’ve asked Bruce to paint one full wall so I can look at the shade over a larger area.

Don and I have been choosing new paint colors for our home. I had a pretty strong sense of what I wanted in most of the house, but relied on Bruce to help select colors for the hall and our master bedroom. Now I needed to decide whether we want to make some tweaks or are settled on these as the final colors for our new home.

Color. I love it! I’m awed by the corals and oranges and yellows of a vibrant sunset, as well as the more subtle mauves and roses that same sunset evidences as it fades. I delight in the hot pink, canary yellow, and burgundy and white of the dahlias in our yard; the vibrant purple of the Mexican sage and the fiery red blooms on the large shrubs by the porch. I’m touched by the vibrant orange-red wall with the yellow door in the photo at left. I feel alive when wearing fire-engine red, dramatic teal, chartreuse, or rich turquoise.

When I was a student at Fresno Pacific College years ago we had a color fountain. Many evenings I sat on the steps around the fountain with friends, watching as the colors changed from green to blue to orange to yellow, trying to decide which was my favorite color. I liked them all! I found that the orange and yellow energized me, while green and blue were calming–the psychology of color, used effectively in advertising.

And I think, what if God made the world in black and white? While I like black and white–elegant clothing, dramatic checkerboard floors, Ansel Adams photography–I would miss the tremendous variety our Creator has placed all around us, from the myriad shades of green among the trees surrounding our property to the many skin tones and eye colors among humans, to the fascinating colors of various spices in a Marseilles marketplace. He created a vastness of beauty in this world, in and around us, and I am ecstatic at the wonder of it all.

When is the last time you were speechless because of some color wonder you saw? Scripture says that “every good and perfect gift is … from the Father” (James 1:17). And the gift of beauty–of color, of form and shape and love–is certainly one of His good gifts which delight my heart.

I’m really curious to know what I’ll decide when I see an entire wall in the grey-green-blue paint I think I want in our living room. Will it entice and enliven my senses or will it overwhelm me? I’ll let you know!

“For the beauty of the earth
For the beauty of the skies
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies

For the beauty of the hour
Of the day and of the night
Hill and vale and tree and flower
Sun and moon and stars of light

Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise

For the joy of human love
Brother, sister, parent, child
Friends on earth and friends above
For all gentle thoughts and mild

For each perfect gift of thine
To our race so freely given
Graces human and divine
Flow’rs of earth and buds of heav’n

Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise” Author: Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1864)

Laughter IS the Best Medicine

“I’ll need a few groceries at home.” My sweet 96-year old mother had taken a fall, and I’d brought her home for the weekend to recuperate with Don and me.

“We can stop for that on the way to your place,” I responded. “What do you need?”

“Let’s see. Grapes, a nectarine or two, and lettuce.”

“What kind of lettuce do you like?”

“Oh, what’s the name … it has long leaves and starts with an ‘F’. I can’t think of the name, but you’ll know it when you see it,” she assured me.

I parked the car and walked into the produce section of the Stop ‘N Go market. Grapes, check. Nectarines, check. I wracked my brain trying to come up with a lettuce that began with the letter “F”.  Then it hit me.

I paid the bill and returned to the car, giving Mom the bag and her change.

“You know that lettuce that starts with an ‘F’?” I asked. “Could that be Romaine?” It was. She chuckled, and I roared with laughter. So, Fromaine it is!

Our friend, Dave, was helping Don by power washing the house. I’d gotten home from taking Mom back just about the time the guys needed lunch. I made tuna sandwiches and served up Parmesan Crisps (yumm!) and grapes for them. Later that day our friend Susan arrived to spend a few days helping me pack–again. What a friend! When I started preparing dinner, a chicken and mushroom dish, I recalled that Susan is allergic to mushrooms.

Looking around for a good alternative, I saw one of my tupperware containers in the fridge. While I didn’t recognize the meal that was inside, it looked good and fresh. Besides, my mind has been in a bit of a whirl around moving, so I figured I’d just forgotten what was in that tub. I took out about half of the leftovers and put them in a bowl to heat.

As Susan and I sat on the porch glider at the end of the work day, Don and Dave joined us. Dave was eating out of a tupperware container before biking home (a fireman, he eats regularly to maintain his energy). It looked familiar.

“Oh no!” I gulped. “That’s YOUR food! Dave, I took out half of your meal for Susan because she’s allergic to mushrooms. We haven’t eaten yet; let me get the rest for you!”

“No worries,” he said graciously. “Grace has dinner ready at home. This is enough for now.” And indeed, Susan enjoyed half of the meal Grace had prepared for Dave that day!

Sometimes you just have to laugh or cry, and that was a day for lots of laughter at our mindless mistakes. I’m glad our God has given us a sense of humor, that He doesn’t love us any less when we mess up, and that He encourages healthy joy.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

What’s the most recent situation in which you laughed at something silly you did?