Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let Me Count the Ways, Vol. 3

The introduction to this series is here, and it continues in this post.

It's been far too long since I posted about my list of special ways that Jeff has showed his love for me; but during the months since I started this series, I have jotted down a few things from time to time.  Like this incident from back in the spring, and the others that follow...

18. One evening, the boys were eagerly clamoring for dessert before I had even gotten to start eating.  I think my delay was because I was cutting up the strawberries and whipping the cream for the strawberry shortcake we were having that night.  Jeff corrected one of the boys by saying, "Your mother hasn't even gotten to eat one bite of her food!  You need to be more patient!"  And I felt loved, because Jeff noticed.  Sacrifices made for the family seem light indeed when someone notices.  :)

19. In an email discussing some plans for the weekend I was gone with Josiah on his SVCC tour, Jeff wrote, "You are going to be missed!"  Ya know, it's a nice feeling to be missed.  :)

20. In the van on our way to church one Sunday morning, Jeff lowered his voice so the five pairs of ears sitting behind us wouldn't hear him and then apologized for being insensitive during our date the night before.  I can't think of a better way to prepare and soften one's heart before a time of communal worship than by hearing a sincere apology from one's spouse.  You can bet I was ready to worship that day!  :) 

21. On one particular Wednesday, Jeff cooked bacon for breakfast and let me sleep in.  In the same day, he let me take a nap after I got home from Josiah and David's violin lessons; and I awoke to the delicious smell of fresh salsa being made and meat being cooked for tacos.  Sleep and food are some of the best gifts anyone can give me!  ;-)

22. Jeff cheerfully took care of the three younger kids during the violin recital that Josiah, David, and I performed in recently.  It's not the easiest thing in the world to single-handedly keep all of them, especially Moriah, still and quiet during such an event; but he did an excellent job of it and didn't complain a bit.  :)

23. When I wasn't feeling well, he spoke so lovingly and gently to me. "I'm so sorry you're sick" in a sincere voice makes me feel so cherished.  :)

24. A few days ago, I wasn't feeling great about something in our relationship, and I timidly brought it up to Jeff.  You have to understand that my tendency--well, let's call it what it is: my sin--is to stuff things that are bothering me and to avoid conflict at all costs; and Jeff's tendency is to let his temper flare up.  But (I'm grinning big right now) we didn't do that in this situation!  Jeff kindly drew out of my heart what was bothering me; and when he had heard my thoughts, he responded with so much kindness and so much reassurance and so much humility.  That was the kind of bump in the road that drew us incredibly closer to each other, rather than further apart.  And it's really all because of how he responded.

25. All of these things, both big and small, that I've mentioned--and so many more left unsaid--have meant so much to me.  But there's one special thing that Jeff did for me recently that is so huge I almost can't believe it.  :)  He bought a plane ticket for me to go to Canada!  You see, when Uncle Jay died, I was LONGING to go to Canada to visit our family there, especially since all my cousins were gathering, some of whom I hadn't seen in 15 years.  When I tossed the idea out to Jeff, he immediately took it seriously and set to work finding a plane ticket for me; but as it turned out, despite the HOURS he spent searching for a good deal, it would have been extremely expensive for me to get a ticket at that point in time.  He left the decision up to me though and was willing to buy the ticket and have me go then if I so chose, but I couldn't justify spending that much money for it.  I came up with another idea though: to figure out what dates we could get a cheap ticket for, and let me go then.  :)  Jeff agreed.  :)  And so, if all goes well and the Lord wills it, I will be flying to Canada in January to visit my aunt and our other family members who live close by!!!  The anticipation of the trip brings such joy--I can hardly wait to go!--but even more than that, it brings such a deep reassurance that I am loved bountifully by my husband.  What a gift.

~ Jeff and I, during a camping trip in the eastern part of San Diego County, probably in 2000 or 2001 ~

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Different Kind of Date

During some of our dates, Jeff and I order tacos from one of the local taco carts and sit in the car and eat them--a cheap date, but one that brings back fond memories of our years in San Diego and the taco runs we would go on to Tijuana.  And sometimes we try one of the other food trucks that have sprung up around our town.

Sometimes we splurge a little more and go to a "real" restaurant.  :)  We much prefer to eat at locally-owned places, eschewing the chain restaurants in favor of establishments owned and run by members of this community, some of whom are immigrants from many different corners of the world.  They bring the tastes of their native lands with them, and our dining experiences are enriched tremendously by that.

Sometimes on our dates, we end up at Goodwill, looking for bargains that will clothe our growing family as the children move into new sizes.

And sometimes we have to do a little shopping at Walmart.  Those dates are NOT Jeff's favorite.  ;-)

One time on a date, we drove off to a remote little welding shop in the countryside to pick up a part for one of Jeff's barber chairs.

Several times, we've hiked up Mole Hill.

Once, we've walked the trails at Wildwood Park.

But tonight on our date, we did something we had never done before.  Want a clue before you make your guess?  ;-)
Yes.

This.
Who knew the shooting range could be such a romantic place?  ;-)

Jeff thought I might want to take a picture of my target.  OK, sure.  I will.  I don't want to forget this night...or how good it felt to see that hole appear right below the Q in the middle of the target.  :)
This might have been a first for us, but I can tell you this: I'm pretty sure it's not a last.  ;-)

********

Since the light was fading fast, we headed home and got there early enough that Jeff could keep the three younger kids while I took Josiah and David to a concert/worship service at one of the Mennonite churches in town.  A group of five musicians from Switzerland was performing there; and although we enjoyed very much all of the music they shared with us, the most exotic for us Virginians was either the alphorn or the yodeling.  Yodeling for Jesus--who would have guessed?  But the Bible does command us in Psalm 150 to "let everything that has breath praise the Lord!"  Even yodelers.  ;-)

On a serious note, however, I am particularly fond of and moved by events that remind me of the cord of true faith that has connected untold followers of Christ through different times and places.  My spirit takes flight when I think of faithful Christians in the year 1232 AD, for example, who met together to hear God's Word and worship Him in song.  My soul rejoices when I consider the faith of my brothers and sisters in Christ who are right now living in places of intense persecution, and yet they hold tightly to their faith, no matter the cost.  Ordinarily my mind is so occupied with the here and now: the USA in the year 2014.  But what of the countless others who have loved and served God with their whole beings throughout all the years of human history?  And what of the Christians who live in places I will never see with my earthly eyes, yet at the same time that I am considering the great things of the Lord, they are doing the same?  How marvelous it will be to meet them in heaven!  How small of a speck I am in the great sea of those who love the Lamb!

THAT is what was running through my head while I listened to songs of faith being sung in German, and I watched two men who were each playing an alphorn and a guitar at the same time, and I heard the yodeler move so effortlessly and quickly from his chest voice to his head voice, and I wondered what the range of the alphorn was and how they managed to produce such a variety of high and low sounds without any valves on the instrument, and I saw the piano player's fingers gracefully glide over the keys, and I admired the harmonies of the two women singers, and I smiled at the girl who was translating the German to English, remembering the challenges of living in Israel and dealing with constant language issues.  That was all happening on the surface of my brain; but deeper than that was the profound stream of connection with God's true church through all time and space.

I sat in the pew, but I was soaring!

Clutter, Be Gone! {Kitchen Stuff}

When I cook with a frying pan, I prefer a nonstick one.  When Jeff uses one, he chooses a cast iron skillet.  So why have we, for YEARS, had this (very good) one sitting unused in a cupboard in our kitchen?
I don't know.

But guess what?  It's not there anymore!  :)

This time, rather than drop this off at a thrift store (which is a good option!), I decided to donate it directly to a local shelter that cares for women and children who are leaving abusive relationships.  Ever since I heard a lady at church speak about this organization, my heart has been moved to consider how we could help to meet the needs of these vulnerable ones who sometimes flee from their homes with only the clothes on their backs.  Many of the people who come through the doors of this shelter need EVERYTHING in order to rebuild their lives.

Maybe even a good skillet.
When I was planning to go by the agency to drop this off, it seemed a little silly to just take a skillet.  Surely I could come up with more things than that from my I-have-a-lot-of-cupboards-and-they're-all-bulging kitchen!

It didn't take me long to think of these plates.
We've used them from time to time through the years and have certainly enjoyed them.  But goodness, we don't need them; and if these plates that look to me like a rising sun can bring smiles to the faces of a mother and her children who are going through perhaps the hardest time of their lives, then by all means, let's give them away!
I wasn't sure what my kids would think though.  After all, it's one thing to declutter and pass along things that we don't use anymore, but quite another to give away something that we still kinda like and would still use if we had it.
I was so proud of my kids, however, because when I told them that I was thinking about giving these plates to this particular shelter, they simply requested that they use them for one final meal; and then we could get rid of them.
Fair enough!  That was a request I was more than happy to grant.  :)

An even bigger test came when I asked David if we could give away his personalized lighthouse mug.  Since he has a mug that's even more personalized (with his face, not just his name!), I figured there was no need for him to have two special mugs.  And since David is such a common name, I could easily imagine a boy named David coming to the shelter and being overjoyed to be given a mug with his own name on it.  However, David tends to be like I was as a child; he really values stuff.  So would he be willing to give away his mug?
Just like with the plates, his only request was that he be allowed to use it one final time; and so he did, drinking hot chocolate in it one day at lunch (and making us laugh by stirring it with the wrong end of his spoon).  :)
Then he was ready to say goodbye to it and pass it on, with love and a prayer that someone named David may indeed benefit from it.
There were a few more things I put in the box for the shelter; and if I had time, I could round up so much more stuff that could benefit those who seek safety there!  Well, it's not a matter of finding time, but of making time; and I'll continue to do that--little by little, one item at a time, simultaneously releasing myself from the bondage of too many possessions while also being a blessing to others.

Clutter, be gone!  :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

16 Days Was Way Too Long...

...to go without seeing my mom.  But because of a lingering round of colds that made its way through our household, that's how long we had to stay away from my mom, given our desire to protect her and the other residents in the nursing home from catching our germs.

It was a long 16 days.  :(

But you can imagine how excited we were to finally have the all-clear to go and see her again, which we did on Tuesday of this week.  It just so happened that that afternoon, there was a group of square/line dancers from another part of the retirement community who was coming into the Alzheimer's unit where my mom lives to give a performance for the Alzheimer's residents.  We decided it would be fun to watch that, so we planned our visit accordingly; and it worked out really well.  We enjoyed ourselves very much.

Also, I will never again be able to hear "Boot Scootin' Boogie" by Brooks & Dunn without seeing in my mind a group of silver-haired senior citizens kicking up their heels to this tune.  Or rather, shuffling along to this tune.  It was perfect.  :)

Seeing my mother's smile again did my heart a world of good.  :)



 Grandma had her own little cowboy beside her during the dances.  :)


 I loved seeing these dancers have fun with this.  The emphasis wasn't on perfection, but it was obvious that they were really enjoying themselves, and you couldn't help but be happy as you watched them.  :)















 At this point, Shav was getting a little restless, so I turned the camera over to him; and the next seven pictures were taken by him--some a little blurry, but that's OK when you're a five-year-old photographer.  :)
 This lady led the audience in a sitting "dance" with various hand and upper body motions.

 Of course, my family jumped right in and did it, too.  :)














These times of connecting the young with the old are PRECIOUS to me, and surely one of the silver linings to the cloud of having to have my mom in a care facility is that my young ones can touch and brighten the lives of more older folks than are in our own family!