Saturday, February 28, 2015

From White-Capped Mountainous Men

Ahh, I have missed being here with you!

Photo credit to my cousin, Naomi W.
Sipping dark roast coffee in my favorite brown and navy mug, I'm pulled up close to my roll top wooden desk and smiling as I think of you.
  • You: my online community of bloggers in these growing friendships across the nation and across the world; or
  • You: this group of almost 500 of you who have signed up to receive these blog posts by email; or 
  • You: friends, family, and acquaintances from women's retreats, conferences, and MOPS groups who stop in here from my facebook page; and
  •  You: the quiet readers online who smile, and nod, and I know we are sharing a common experience at times too...
I am so thankful for you and humbled by you being here. Thank you.
 I flew out to Washington state last week to honor my grandma at her celebration of life service in Yakima. Touching down at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, I craned my head for glimpses of mountains.

The weekend flashed by in vivid moments with relatives:
  • My mom and cousin delighted at the chance to buy dozens of roses for the occasion. Fragrant crimson, peach, coral, honeyed-yellows, pinks, and white roses dotted the church dining room
  • Long talks with my brother and sister curled up around his gas stove, wrapped in warm blankets
  • Tucking up legs under us on a couch, or standing and swaying with the motions of passing people, my cousins and I got re-acquainted, and I got to meet old family friends and relatives too.
  • My grandpa moved to tears as we hugged, and later hearing his wavering but strong voice as he sang a Hebrew blessing from the Old Testament over his extended family. 
I sing that in silence for you too, my friends, this weekend.

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
 and be gracious to you; 
the Lord turn his face towards you 
and give you peace        (from the Bible book of Numbers, chapter 6).

And as craggy white-capped Mount Rainier towered across the airport, looming larger than I could believe, my brother's car pulled away from the curb, and I strode into the airport that Sunday afternoon. My grandpa's voice and words still linger.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"I See Past the Teeth," She Said

"God, is there any way...?" and my prayer slipped out as snow crackled and crunched under the car tires.

Pulling into the dentist lot, I pocketed my keys, locked the door, and shifted black knit mittens higher up my wrists. A winter wind howled and whipped up snow in swirls around me. In the lobby a gas fireplace radiated tantalizing heat and the free hot coffee tempted me to sully my freshly-brushed teeth.
Photo: Eric Wienke, Creative Commons, cc license
"I have a coupon here for a cleaning," I said as I checked in. A plastic-tufted flower pen rode cheerily across my pages as I noted personal information.

Several minutes later in a reclining dentist chair, I gagged on cardboard x-ray pieces, and apologized to the dental hygienist. In between putting cardboard into my mouth, we talked and got to know each other more. As she side-danced in and out of the room for the xrays and I wriggled my toes in frantic attempts to distract my gag reflex, we found more in common.

Twenty minutes later, my jaw propped open and her face near mine as she worked patiently, graciously, on my mouth, I thanked her. In between water rinsings and removal, I repeated it.

"Thank you for your work on me. I appreciate it. You must see some scary things," I laughed sheepishly. She had spent extra time on my mouth, I knew, and her generosity was meaningful.

"You know, I see past the teeth," she said, her brown eyes the only thing I could see behind her green mask.

I see past the teeth. Her statement stuck with me and its beautiful meaning has curled up and taken residence in my mind this weekend. Because we all have situations where we could merely see the teeth, merely see the task before us, and forget the person behind it. I see past the teeth. 

Whatever your job, whatever your volunteer position, whatever your role in your family or friend community, this deeper awareness of the people you are really showing love to and serving should bubble up. I see past the teeth.

Crumpled between my hands in the reclining chair was a wadded tissue paper. Bringing it out off and on, I smiled and brushed away splashed water from my cheeks and chin. The hygienist's metal scraping tool pricked and poked, and I curled up my toes several times, and tried to focus on a spot behind her head on the ceiling. Distracting my mind, I reviewed a speech, worked on a verse, and intentionally relaxed my shoulders.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"I'm fine. Thank you for your work on me today. I appreciate it," I grinned, swiping my right cheek again. "I think God used you to answer my prayer this morning."

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's All About WHO You Know? (When Our Kids Lead the Way)

Photo Credit: Rudolf Vlcek, Creative Commons, cc license
 "I'll pray, Mom," he chirps, my six and a half year old standing on the frayed sewing bench that is my desk chair.

"Thanks, Daniel. I would love that. Morgan, John, will you pray with us too?"


They lope over good-naturedly. My broad-shouldered son looms tall over me -- they both do, actually. Nineteen year old John is a replica of his dad, and willowy sixteen year old Morgan leans over to grab my hand. I squeeze her palm on the right of me, grasp John's fingers firmly on the left, and smile to hear my six year old talk to the Creator of Galaxies.

Daniel asks God to "Help Mom with her lesson, and to be safe, to not die, and to make good choices." He thanks God for taking care of us, for the family, and for our house. I strive to remember every word, and even now fall short of explaining the sweetness and naturalness of his conversation with the World-Spinner.

Morgan pulls her long brown hair to the side, and prays next.

"Dad," she says calmly, and my heart is startled yet happy to hear her address the God of the Universe with such intimacy. "Dad, be with Mom as she talks today. Speak through her. Be with the women she'll be speaking to..." Morgan's voice continues.

And in between the words with the afternoon sun pouring spring's heat through our dining room window, we stand huddled around my desk. This place where I wrangle words, craft sentences, and seek God's face, soaking amazed in his delight for me -- this crammed kitchen corner at my desk is where we stand humble in God's presence and my children stride boldly, comfortably, into God's presence. And I am undone, overjoyed, and utterly thrilled to see this glimpse into their relationship with Jesus.

If nothing else comes of this day then to have been prayed for by these kids, it will have been worth it, I reason happily, and then marshal my thoughts again as John's masculine voice steps in.

"God..." he begins, and my lips crack in thankful gratitude, mouthing silent to my God, "Thank you, God."

Friends? We who are moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas... we have the honor of walking into the throne room of the Most High God. And striding in beside us, or in front of us, or trailing in behind us, are the ones who are watching, learning, teaching. We get to converse with the God of the world! It is intimate, awe-inspiring, and a wonderful privilege.