Posts Tagged: "Gratitude"

I sometimes return to the aggressive rush and run others off the road

Thankful Notes (#274)

I appreciated our church’s weekly conversation video that was released yesterday—it featured three individuals who have an immediate family member living in their homes who is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Their sharing was honest and gracious and shed light on why we are being so careful.

I read this poem called The Visit by Patricia Lunetta Gould yesterday. There is no set-up, no explanation of who Margaret is or what her relationship is to the author. It just begins…

The last time I saw Margaret, she had reached the skeletal stage.

I rubbed her feet that day, touching death. Feet bumped out with bunions, tipped with twisted toes and curling yellowed nails.

On her bedside stand, a scrap of paper—the name of one of those TV evangelists who beseech you to feel the healing power of Jesus through the screen—and don’t forget to send your generous love gifts.

As I drive home on a narrow curving road, someone tailgates, itching to go faster, not knowing he’s flesh and fragile.

Slowed by sadness and sick of pressure, I pull onto the gravel shoulder, let him shoot by… and on my right catch sight of a great blue heron standing tall and still in the aisle made by two rows of towering trees.

Like a priest in feathered robes, he bows his head three times before an altar of mountain bluffs. It’s dusk, and the moon, just rising, illuminates his wings as they open in benediction for evening flight. His parting call:

Stay awake. Holiness 
may spread its wings for you 
at any moment.

* * *

Her description of driving home on a narrow curving road—and someone tailgates, itching to go faster, not knowing he’s flesh and fragile… um, I mean, I just want to sit with that for a while.

I’ve been the tailgater in a hurry.

And I’ve been the one slowed by… Read More

By this time, my dad was hearing the ghost sound too. We looked at each other with stunned faces, in complete bewilderment.

Thankful Notes (#270)

When sleeping outside on the deck furniture for the night, I do occasionally hear some strange sounds. Sometimes the gray heron pierces the silence with his prehistoric-guttural squawks. Other times, a flock of Canadian geese fly directly overhead, honking with every flap of their wings. And there is this bizarre sound a crow makes, almost like a cat, “baahw? baahw?”

This time of year, the cormorants have left for some other climate or location… so I don’t hear their weird growling monster sound. But there is definitely the sound of frogs and the occasional splosh of fish jumping and landing back into the lake.

One of my favorite nighttime sounds is the gentle hoot of owls in trees nearby.

Even when I’m not sleeping outside, I hear most of these sounds (except the fish sploshing back into the water) because we always have our bedroom windows open at night. Gotta have that fresh air, even when it’s cold at night.

As I think about strange middle-of-the-night sounds, I’m taken back to a memory I share with my dad… I was around 15 years old at the time, and had just started working at the veterinary hospital in Rainier Beach.

My bedroom was on the ground floor of the house, right next door to my parent’s bedroom. The night was stormy—wind and heavy, relentless rain. Everything was soaked and the ground couldn’t absorb all the water.

I had been working on a side-hustle for my dad in addition to working at the veterinary hospital – he offered to pay me $1,000 to dig out the ground around the north side of the basement (it needed a drain field and the concrete exterior wall of the basement needed to be sealed). A good sized trench had been started – it was maybe 3’ wide by 6-7’ deep.

In the middle of the night, I was awakened to the strange and eerie sound of moaning or wailing or groaning… and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I laid in bed listening, wondering if I’d just had a bad dream, but the ghost sound continued.

I couldn’t get back to sleep, and I was starting to wonder if someone was pulling a prank on me, “punking” me, so I walked over to my parent’s bedroom and shook my dad awake. I whispered, “Do you hear that sound?”… Read More

Then I heard one of her co-workers say, “Oh wow! This makes my boobs look huge!” and with that, I was out the door

 

Thankful Notes (#255)

It’s hard to believe we have been in this little fixer-upper barn-shaped house on the lake for two years now (in May). When we first walked through the house, I fell in love with the view and the potential I could see in the basic structure of the house. I was sold the minute I looked out the windows to Lake Wilderness.

It’s been two years of struggle and joy, enduring and enjoying, stripping away and building. The projects aren’t all complete.

The rotting dock still needs to be replaced. Our HVAC mini-split system still needs to be installed. And there’s the tricky issue of a major structural retaining wall still waiting to be addressed. But it’s become home—truly OUR home, and for that I am so very thankful.

We lived in it while it still had cracked linoleum and dark ceilings and blue duck wallpaper and a pretty cool JennAir downdraft cooktop with a flip-clock straight out of the early 1980’s. Before the remodel began, we moved into the fixer-upper with our brand new 8-week old English Golden Retriever named Camper. We scraped off popcorn ceilings and tore off the wallpaper and ripped up the carpets. Camper chewed big patches of the cracked linoleum and destroyed a section of drywall where we’d torn off the wallpaper. Heck, it was a family effort.

Somehow, we survived. And we are still here, still surviving and dreaming of what can be.

Shari and I drove to the church office together today and Camper stayed at home with Ashah. While I was in a meeting with staff, I receive a text message from Ashah – it’s two pictures of Camper thoroughly enjoying a “Puppuccino” – something I’ve never allowed Camper to have (basically a Starbucks cup filled with whipped cream). But it’s Camper’s birthday week, so what can I say?

I left for my meeting with staff out to the wide-open and spacious lobby, while Shari stayed in my office for her video conference calls. When I returned, she was still on a call (a very loud and chaotic call with her colleagues). I wasn’t sure how long it would last, so I tried to sit down and concentrate on my own work… but the sound of voices talking over one another had me completely shut down and unproductive. Then I heard one of her co-workers say… Read More

A YEAR WITHOUT HUGS

Thankful Notes (#249)

Instead of leaving as quickly as possible for work this morning, I spent some time in the kitchen making breakfast. I carried over two plates with hot food over to my dad’s house and we sat at his table for breakfast and coffee.

Camper and I left together for the office and she rode with her back legs on the back seat and her front legs on the armrest between the two front seats and her head on my arm.

It’s her version of riding shotgun and I pretty much love the snuggles.

While working in my office, I received a text message from a friend asking if I had lunch plans and how many staff members were working today. We usually have half of our staff working from home on Thursdays during the pandemic, so I told her I didn’t have lunch plans and there would only be 4-5 people at the church. Her reply made my day:

“Can I bring you Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwiches? ”

And I was all, “Um… CAN YOU??!!?!?!! Oh my, that would be wonderful.”

About 30 minutes later, I heard a car pull up behind the office building. Lunch had arrived.

While eating my delicious Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich, I wrote next week’s family devotions—an online and printed resource we’ve been providing since not holding in-person church services. In one of the devotions, I told one of my favorite family stories…

When I was a kid, I saved up my money to get a puppy. She was a Brittany Spaniel and we named her Gretchen (weird name, I know). We took Gretchen to dog obedience classes and they said we needed to purchase a long leather leash. It was kind of expensive.

One day, when my sister was going to take Gretchen outside for a walk, she couldn’t find the leash. My parents asked all four of us kids who took the leash or left it somewhere. We all said it wasn’t us. Then we started blaming each other.

I was convinced my little sister did it. My parents seemed to think it was me. But nobody would confess. It was a mystery…

Until a few days later when my dad told me I needed to go outside and pick up all the… Read More

The Great Stripping Away (or—how I lost some of my faith)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thankful Notes (#23)

I will always think of this past year as the Great Stripping Away. There were things I intentionally chose to remove from my life, there were things that just happened naturally and in their season, and there were things that felt more forceful, not in my control… more like a taking rather than a giving or letting go.

This past year…

We sold our big 3,000sf home of 10 years in the neighborhood where Ashah grew up

We gave away most of our furniture

I gave away 3/4 of my clothing

My dad started having memory problems

Ashah graduated / turned 18 / has boyfriend / is heading to college – including a study abroad program

We began a complete gut-and-remodel of our little lake house while living in it… which included no heat or water during the snow storm and power outage this winter

We had to move out for some days when the staircase was gutted (leaving no access to bedrooms and the only remaining usable bathroom)

The main level of our house had no walls, no insulation, no lights, etc. for a while

I slept on a cot in the construction zone for a month or two

We had no kitchen, no way to prepare food at home other than with a microwave

We ran out of money to pay contractors and had to borrow in order to keep going

We began a remodel on our rental house so we could sell it

We sold our rental house

We decided to close our Kent campus after some significant setbacks – the youth pastor left to work at another church and took much of the band and our workforce with him; at the same time, an elder/pastor left because of a pending divorce

The church I grew up in, now a multi-site megachurch in our community, hired our youth pastor without any prior contact or conversation with me. Our youth pastor left to work at one of their campuses and took… Read More