Do you remember?

Memory is a fascinating thing, and today I’m so thankful for memories.

Honestly, I’m thankful for the good memories and the bad. Somehow. I’m not sure how I’m thankful for bad memories, but I guess it’s because the things that come to mind when I think of “bad memories” are things that I can now look back on and see so visibly how God has taken those instances and worked them for great good in my life and my family’s life.

There are definitely memories that I’m very much not fond of, but . . . the good outweighs the bad, by far.

***

I remember the day I tried roller-skating down The 4th Street Hill when I was about 10. It definitely doesn’t stand out as the most brilliant decision I ever made, and I had scars to prove it for awhile, but . . . the adrenaline rush I got still brings a smile to my face.

***

I remember being so confused as to why Mom wouldn’t make me a Green Bean Birthday Cake when I was about 6 years old. People had carrot cake for their birthday. I loved green beans. Why not have a green bean birthday cake? My little brain just didn’t understand why my wish was being denied.

***

I remember many an enchanting hour spent on the white-wicker porch swing on the slate blue porch of The Little White House.

***

I remember the time I packed a real live mouse into my suitcase, and then realized it in the middle of the night.

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I remember my first ride on an ambulance as a patient. I was headed to the hospital to volunteer when someone hit me from behind at a high-ish speed. I sure made it to the hospital a lot faster than I was originally intending…

***

I remember when I first realized what a fun thing it was to imagine things. Sure, I had imagined lots of things before, but . . . this was the moment when I was completely enraptured with the concept of imagination. What a wonderful moment that was, and oh! how I never want to leave that place of being enraptured.

***

I remember happy days spent down at the wharf catching crabs, touring the Alaska ferry, chatting with the gift shop ladies, throwing bread to the seagulls, and breathing deeply of the scent of salt water and the nearby fish warehouse.

***

I remember many excruciating hours spent trying to learn how to ride the unicycle . . . I was determined!

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I remember the day Dad set me up with my very own email address.

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I remember sitting in my brother’s room on his bed the day I first had any contact with the girl who was to instantly become my best friend. Remember that day, Bex?

***

I remember sitting in my little yellow kayak out in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks of New York and being surrounded by dozens of speed boats. They sped past me, producing waves worthy of surfing on. My poor little kayak and I didn’t know what to do, but after floundering for awhile, we finally made it to shore and survived the whole incident with nothing worse than a strange desire to experience it again. Ah, adrenaline.

***

I remember my first late-night horseback ride, racing through fields drenched in moonlight, hair loose in the wind.

***

I remember writing my very first book. I’d love to go back and read it again (I think. But then again . . . .maybe I don’t want to read it again!) but unfortunately, it was lost in the Laptop Crash of . . . oh, probably ’08-ish? My second book was also lost the same day. And almost all of my short stories. *moment of silence*

***

I remember the very first day of the very first semester of Ellerslie. Oh, the many memories that Ellerslie has added to my repertoire!

***

I remember the day my life flashed in front of me as I headed under the semi-truck. I should’ve died that day, but God miraculously spared me, and I ended up with nothing worse than a stiff neck, a broken axle, a nearly totaled car, and a hysterical mother. She has since recovered. ;)

***

I remember the day I saw the miracle of a life coming into the world. Love you, Kipling Joel Anthony!

***

I remember the day I was excitedly sitting in my very first A&P class. That day ended with a trip to the ER, and within a few days I had made several more trips back to the ER, dropped out of college, and been diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition. That has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.

***

I remember the day I first realized what a relationship with the Lord truly was to be–a life of intimacy and victory. A daily dying to self and living for Christ. A lifetime of serving and glorifying my beloved King.

***

I remember the day I found out I was officially going to Africa. And then, of course, I remember the day I arrived, the day I first went to the village, the day I first went to the market, the day I ate roasted ants, the day I fell in love with the African culture, and the day I had to leave.

***

I remember the day I first met my chiropractor–one of the first people in the “medical field” (which, I don’t really think chiropractors technically are…) who gave me hope–and I remember the day he officially made it onto my “close friends” list. What a blessing to have a Christian chiropractor who understands and cares and continually directs my attention back to the Lord.

***

I remember the day I told myself I’d one day be a famous singer. Ha.

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I remember the day I won a sibling-wide contest as to who could fit the largest kitchen utensil into their mouth. It’s not something I often boast about, but I still hold it over my siblings here and there. Probably not the smartest move, considering they have ample room to come back with some “big-mouthed” comment.

***

I remember the big, big swing-set Dad made when I was little. It was adult-sized, and my little 6 year old self absolutely loved swinging as high as possible on it. I told secrets to the clouds as I rose above the tree tops of our little orchard. I wanted to spend the rest of my days on that swing-set.

***

I remember many afternoons of Cops and Robbers with my brothers in the driveway on our bicycles, Cowboys and Indians in the orchard next door–complete with teepees(!), Salvation Army in the back yard, and House/Secret Club/etc behind the chicken house.

***

I could go on and on and on and on and on . . . .

But I think I shall wrap this up, and perhaps sometime do a Part II installment because I had such a fun time reminiscing about all this things.

Oh, the joys of memories!

What are some of your favorite memories?

Happy Birthday, Mama

(I read this to Mom this morning at Ellerslie–all the staff wrote a letter to her to read. Mine just happened to end up being four pages long and included a power-point presentation with the picture I painted and the poems. ;) )

Dear Mom,

On Mother’s Day, as you’ll no doubt remember, I painted you a picture:

(picture not included)

And I wrote you a poem…

The first day I met you, I was bawling in your arms.
I was reeling from sudden exposure to this new situation:
life on the outside.

…which should have stopped before it ever began.

So, I tried writing another poem:

Mom, I can’t thank you half as much
as I think I oughter.
You’re my friend, my confidant, a gentle touch,
The best mother that ever loved a daughter.

This daughter has quirks,
You know this better than any other
But, this too has its perks:
You’ve never mistaken me for my brother.

Needless to say, I am not painting you anything OR writing you any poetry for your birthday. You deserve better!

It’s your birthday. And here I am once again trying to do the impossible–put into words what you mean to me. There is so much that I love about you. So many things that I don’t even realize the extent of it. Here’s a handful of things I love about you:
– I love that you make the best food ever thought possible.
– I love that you are so gullible that I can make you believe almost anything.
– I love that you always know exactly where everything is when one of your offspring (ok, me) needs something.
– I love your hair.
I love that you put up with me–my wild whims, my emotional outbreaks, my crazy ideas, my insensible humor.
I love that you love Jesus.
I love your laugh.
I love that everything usually gets better as soon as you walk in the door.
I love your selflessness.
I love the way you have raised me–with honor, integrity, and a sweet love for our King.
I love the way you love those around you and pour yourself unreservedly into their lives.
I love your voice. (who thinks she has the greatest voice ever?)
I love that you have allowed me the honor of having 78.6 gazillion siblings.
I love that you sit in the other room while I’m making dinner and yell out random ingredients I should add to my salmon patties. Raisins,  tabasco sauce, and nutmeg? Eggnog? Really?
I love that you give so much of yourself that I have to sit you down and talk sternly with you about the importance of eating.
I love that your response to the previous note is usually “I ate half of a protein bar!” and expect me to be impressed.
I love that you’ve been willing to forgive so many times over.

Speaking of forgiveness:

I’m sorry that I’ve teased you endlessly–actually, I’m kind of not sorry about that, and it will probably continue.
I’m sorry that I made your car mold and smell bad.
I’m sorry that I put you in a position where you had to be the “mean mom” and take away my bedroom door and bed. For close to four months.
I’m sorry for all the times I’ve forgotten things that you’ve told me to do.
I’m sorry for the times that I rubber-banded the squirter-thing at the sink so it would spray you when you turned the faucet on.

Thank you for loving me in spite of me? :)

There are times when I look at you and ponder your life and I am simply speechless. Remember the other day when I choked really bad on my water? That’s probably what was going on at that moment. Having a mom like you has been the adventure of a lifetime–in more ways than one:

I remember getting up really early in the morning back when I was a morning person (like, 30 years ago), and I’d come sit by you while you were reading the Bible.

I remember you relentlessly trying to get me to “STOP SITTING UNDER THE DINING ROOM TABLE WHEN WE HAVE COMPANY, GRACE….YOU’RE 10 YEARS OLD.”

I remember the day someone told you that a friend of theirs had believed them when they told them that the word “gullible” had been taken out of the dictionary–and you gasped and said “When did they do that?!”

I remember the times you used to make us dance through the house, arms flailing, with Silverwind playing loudly in the background because we were falling asleep in our math books.

I remember spending countless hours gardening, weeding, harvesting, canning, (and eating!) with you. I’m still in awe of all you managed to get done with a troupe of kids like us…er….me.

I remember the day you had surgery and my little 4-year-old self was glued to the patio as I watched you get carried into the house–I had never seen my Mom anything but perfectly strong and capable.

I remember the many hours you spent discipling other ladies, girls, moms, neighborhood kids, and anyone you could nab.

I remember you going out and buying your OWN lego set, Search & Rescue, and not letting us play with them. You’d get them out sometimes and play with them–they generally were searching and rescuing lost souls and having revival meetings out behind the station.

I remember you and Dad willingly taking international refugees into your home and giving everything you had to help them survive in the world.

I remember you climbing up into the high rafters with large rolls of tar-paper on your shoulder while we were building our house.

I remember your unfailing patience and willingness to “see the good” during less-than-desirable circumstances and situations.

I literally do not ever remember a time when my Mom has not completely selflessly served those around her–spilled her life for the cause of the gospel.

There have been good times and “bad times” in our lives as a family–and yet to see you still allowing yourself to be completely used of God, no matter what the consequences may be, and to see you continually give up your life brings tears to my eyes. You gave all of yourself when you had a whole passel of little unruly kids to raise (what? no, I never snuck books and food and hid them under my bed…). You gave all of yourself even through the winds of Fairhaven–though you got worse than nothing in return. And here you are giving yourself fully right where God has you now–at Ellerslie. No matter the season of life, no matter how daunting the road ahead, or how painful the road has been in the past, I’ve seen you remain constant…as only one whose feet are firmly planted on the Rock of rocks can do. I truly hope that one day I can be half the woman you are–although, like Elisha, I would dare to ask for double, because you’ve taught me not to stop short of “all the way”.

You are the description of tough and gentle love. Eric hit the nail on the head when he said you are a lamb with the face of a lion. You have a love and devotion to the Lord that is rare in our day.

The Lord has used your life to impact and change me more than possibly anything else in this world–thank you, Jesus.

As I was writing this, I remembered that I wrote something last year, too, but wasn’t able to be here to read it to you–so I went and looked it up. I obviously felt the same way then as I do now–even some of the exact same phrases are in here! So, I want to read you a piece of what I wrote last year, too, since I’m here to read it personally now:

I look at you each day and I’m amazed. I’m blessed and honored. I’m humbled. Each day as I work alongside you, I witness something amazing. I see in you a depth of selflessness that I didn’t know was possible. I see God shining through you. I see God around you. I hear God speaking through you. You’ve taught me who God is. Your life has been a constant demonstration of Jesus to me–and to so many others.

Having a mother like you has been one of the greatest gifts anyone could have given me–your passion for the Lord, your devotion, your desire to instill a love for your Saviour into the lives of your children, your selflessness, your courage, the way you constantly direct me to the Lord, your desire to to see God high and lifted up . . . thank you.

It brings tears to my eyes to so many times just to observe the way you allow yourself to be used of God. I have watched you give up your life. I have experienced the love you have poured into the lives of everyone around you. I have seen you sacrifice yourself for someone else. I have watched you rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. I have seen a devotion to the Lord that is rare in our day.

Thank you for being such a picture of what it is to be set-apart for the Lord. Thank you for showing me what it is to be a lamb with the face of a lion. Thank you for allowing your life to be used to show the world around you what it means to have victory in Jesus.

To see my own mother living a set-apart and given-up life for the Lord Jesus Christ has touched me and changed me possibly more than anything else in my life. One of my biggest wishes is to be like you.

All of that is still true and is the resounding theme when I consider the idea of writing a letter to you.

Thank you, Mama, for allowing your life to be a picture of a set-apart heart. Thank you for loving Jesus above all. Thank you giving me the honor of living day-in and day-out with someone who holds nothing back–for being able to see that lived out in front of me each day.

I love you.

Grace

Perseids Meteor Shower (alternately titled: In Which I Watch Dust Fall Through The Sky)

Yes. I did it.

I didn’t think I would do it, but I did.

I woke up at 3:00am (after going to sleep at 12:30am-ish!) and stumbled around my room with bleary eyes, trying to find some warm clothes. I hadn’t prepared for this before I went to bed because I didn’t actually think I was going to get up. I pulled my favorite hoodie on, wrapped myself in my favorite snowman blanket, and stumbled groggily out into the elements.*

A few other figures were making their way across the field to the previously designated spot for star gazing. There were a few blankets and pillows already laid out on the ground, and some people even had hot coffee and cocoa.

We all plopped ourselves down on our blankets, watched the sky, complained about how cold it was, drank hot drinks, “ooohed” and “aahhhed” at the appropriate times, sang praises to the Maker of the heavens, laughed and chatted, and saw a breath-taking display take place in the huge expanse of sky above us.

It has been somewhat of a tradition in my growing up years to get up in the middle of the night on the night of August 12th and watch the Perseids Meteor Shower–because August 12th is my Mom’s birthday. We didn’t do it every single year, but . . . it’s still somehow part of Mom’s birthday to me. I love the sweet memories I have throughout the years of getting up in the darkest time of the night and watching from our deck (which over looked the Puget Sound) with my family. This year I was thrilled to be able to start this same tradition with the students at Ellerslie.

It’s a tradition I hope to carry on with my own family.

What are some traditions you have?

*Yes, I know that the “elements” in the middle of August aren’t much to cry about, but work with me here. It was the middle of the night and it gets cold at night in Colorado, and I had just crawled out from under my down comforter. Let me whine about the “elements”. ;-)

That Peanut Butter

When I was just a wee little tyke, I lived in what could have been Hippy Town Central. One place I remember very well is the Food Co-op that I would go to with my Mummy. I remember vividly the smell of that place–it smelled like henna, granola, and barley grass. And I vividly remember the people in that place–they were often barefoot, sporting heads full of dread-locks, and wearing what appeared to be hemp clothing.

I remember buying roasted peanuts with Mummy and taking them to this food co-op and pouring them into the grinder they had. Nothing but salt and roasted peanuts went into that grinder, but the substance that came out was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted in my short little life. We had buckets and jars full of that all-natural “homemade” peanut butter.

I loved that peanut butter. I stole that peanut butter from the closet and ate it with my fingers. I ate so many apples with that peanut butter that I had to stop eating apples because they were messing up my stomach. I ate pancakes with that peanut butter. I sat on a bucket of wheat in the pantry and stared at that peanut butter.

One dark, dark day, I received the news that we were plumb out of that peanut butter. I looked at my sandwich for lunch that day and stared icily at the imposter peanut butter that was spread inside. Life seemed a little bland after that fateful day.

Years passed. Seasons changed. Playgrounds watched as the children they once knew grew to be adults and moved on. Little trees grew to be big trees. Time moved along as time is known to do. And never once during those many, many years did I taste anything even close to that peanut butter. Mummy even tried to buy the most natural peanut butter the stores had to try to see if I would like it the way I liked that other peanut butter, but no . . . it just wouldn’t do. My taste buds began to give up on ever tasting such goodness again.

Until one day. Years and years and years later.

It was a day that promised to be bright, hot, and sunny. I went about my day as usual–breakfasted on nectarines and strawberries and yogurt, took care of some daily things, had my sweet time with my Jesus, went to work at the Ludy’s, made lunch for the kiddos . . . Suddenly I stopped and gasped. I bent and peered closer at the peanut butter I was absentmindedly spreading on the bread. I tilted my head to one side and brought the bread up to my face. This stuff looked familiar! This stuff smelled familiar! I looked into the situation further–both through the test of tasting it and also asking where this peanut butter had been acquired. The answer confirmed what I had thought: it had been homemade out of salt and roasted peanuts.

Oh, joyous reunion!

My taste buds and that peanut butter were finally reunited after years of desperate searching for each other. My taste buds had certainly been pining for the peanut butter, and I shall, to the end of my days, be convinced that that peanut butter was pining for my taste buds.

Yesterday was a good day.