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.

***

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!

***

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

***

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.

***

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

Life in pictures.

Here’s a few glimpses of various things in my life from the past few weeks.

Some of the pictures are pretty crummy, but you’ll have to forgive me–these were all taken on my phone, and I don’t pretend to be an amazing photographer when I’ve got my phone camera pointed at something. ;)

I’ll start at the top left and go row by row:

1. Picnic with the niephlings! (nieces and nephews)
2. Darling Amy–she’s a little ham. And she has wormed her way into my heart in a very permanent way.
3. The sleeping beauty again–Miss Amy.
4. My nephew has an imagination–this is his airplane. I might add that he hadn’t realize that he was missing wings at this point, and he did improve his design later in the day.
5. Bedtime stories!
6. Mowing the lawn at Ellerslie provides lots of time for prayer and thinking–it’s one of my favorite jobs around here.
7. Abby and I made coffee cake (literally) one evening–and then made ourselves rather sick on it. We got Mom in on the fun, too, and made her sick on it, as well. ;)
8. Another shot of the coffee cake. If any of you make this recipe (which I do actually encourage you to do if you like coffee) you should try making it with a dark chocolate frosting instead of the actual coffee frosting. And then report back to me on the results. *nod*
9 and 10. His Little Feet farewell banquet night.
11. Girls’ Day Out with the girls of His Little Feet. We had a very fancy tea–with tea hats!
12. I braided Bex’s hair . . . in lots and lots of braids. I actually loved how it turned out–and I sure didn’t expect to when I started! I was mostly doing a spoof sort of hair-do on her, and well, it ended up being legitimate. ;)

My Sister

I’m just going to preface this post with the fact that you all should be jealous. Veeeewy jealous.

And, with that out of the way, let me begin.

I have an awesome big older sister. Seriously, I just look at her and her life, and am amazed.

My sister is expecting her 8th child. What? You didn’t catch that? Let me repeat. My sister is expecting her 8th child. Yes. And her oldest child is . . . 8. Her house is peaceful and sweet. No, that does not mean that it is always quiet–she has 5 little boys, and the oldest boy is 6–her house is definitely not quiet. But it always strikes me when I walk into her house, that her house is peaceful. I’m not sure how she does it. There is always laundry hanging around, toys on the floor, books strewn on the couch, sewing projects in the recliner, diapers on the stairs, dollies stuck upside down in the dirty laundry piles, and dishes to be done. But . . .

. . . there are children learning to read and being excited to learn about the world they live in, there are girlies who are learning to sew, there is a mom who is doing her own cross-stitch project right along with the girls (her’s says “Pray Without Ceasing” . . . how very apt. ;) ), there is always fresh bread in the bread maker, there are little boys outside finding out what it means to be a boy, there is music playing in the background. There is peace and beauty.

My sister is an amazing woman.

The joy she finds in the little things in life . . . the love she pours out to her children . . . the sweet spark in her eyes when she sees her husband . . . her laughter . . . her failures to make the perfect loaf of french bread . . . her love of house-plants . . . her extreme desire to own a cow . . . her willingness to learn how to shoot a rattlesnake . . . her 15 passenger van she goes toddling around town in full of car-seats . . . the adventures she has in home-schooling her children . . . the ingenuity it takes to live on a budget the size of theirs . . . the projects she does with her children . . . the sheer joy she finds in snuggling a baby . . . the cast-iron skillets she has hanging on her dining room wall against a backdrop of sweet french-style wall paper . . . the fruit of the Spirit she painted over the doors in her house . . . her desire to see the truth of God imparted into the hearts of her children . . . her desire to adopt . . . her love of making up new words . . . the random phone calls we have with each other throughout the week . . . her experiments . . . her love of life.

I love you, Jani, and I’m so glad you’re my big sister. (Even though I was a brat and you were bossy when we were younger.)

(Also, as an aside, I intend to do more posts about my sister and my three brothers . . . the relationship I have with all my siblings is one of quick-wittedness, good-natured humor, hilarious inside jokes, and a jolly good time–mixed with some amazingly good conversations. This will probably come out in my posts about them. None of us have a sappy relationship with each other, so this post about my sister is probably the sweetest thing she’s heard out of me in a long time. ;) )

(As you are reading this post, I am out of town at MMI. My sister took this course ten years ago. She met her husband there.
No. Do not even start down that path of thinking. Stop those thoughts in their tracks.
The fact that my sister met her husband at this class 10 years ago has absolutely nothing to do with why I am now taking this same class. Honest.)

Of nose tubes and to-do lists

…Lay your stethoscope on the abdomen very lightly. Pushing abolishes the sounds. Listen for gurgling like that of your own abdomen during the moment of silence in church after you got up late and skipped breakfast…

This is a quote from my textbook for the class I’m going to be taking for the next two weeks. It made me laugh.

I am indeed going to be leaving on Sunday for a little over two weeks. I am sojourning to the east coast where I will be involved in an extremely intensive missionary medical course (MMI). Excitement is high on the list of emotions right now–although I’m a little scared, too, because I’ve heard horror stories of nose tubes. Not that long ago a Real Live Doctor tried to put a Teeny Tiny Scope down my nose. And utterly failed. Her comment after the whole Grace-freaked-out-right-there-in-the-office ordeal: “Good luck to anyone who ever tries to put a tube down your nose.” Well, that day is about to happen.

I feel for the poor unsuspecting soul who gets to attempt it on me. They don’t know how bad my freak-out sessions can really be. Even I hadn’t realized how bad my freak-out sessions can be…

Aside from that, though, I think the class shall be smashing fun and be hugely helpful and informative.

I made a to-do list of things I needed to get done before leaving on Sunday:

  • clean room
  • read entire textbook
  • forward emails
  • get email inbox all the way to empty (currently at 119)
  • figure out who is going to run my bookstore while I’m gone
  • work duty assignments and table assignments for students while I’m gone
  • banking

There were a few other things I added to the list here and there, but . . . as time went on, it dawned on me that something Very Important was lacking from the list.

The whole packing-before-a-trip thing had totally eluded me. It honestly did not even cross my mind. So. Three more things are now added to my list:

  • laundry
  • find suitcase
  • pack

I would also love to do some write-ahead blog posts that can be posted automatically in my two week absence (because I have *cough* so many readers who would miss me while I’m gone), but I highly doubt that will happen.

And now, I am off to clean my room. Someone stop me from procrastinating. Last time I had a huge amount of stuff I had to do in a short amount of time, I decided that it would be a perfect time to take on the project of rearranging and redecorating my room. Someone, please save me from myself.

 

Hand Written.

I love writing letters.

I also love it when people write letters to me–I’ll be honest about it. There is nothing quite like the thrill of donning hat, boots, and scarf, walking to the mailbox while the leaves crunch beneath your feet, and the thrill of peaking in the mailbox. I catch my breath a little just as I open it, hold it in a light suspense, and gasp delightedly as I see the familiar handwriting of a dear friend from far away. I snatch the letter out of the box and can’t erase the smile from my face. (I will also admit that I sometimes [ok, frequently] burst out with the most un-feminine display of a fist pump in the air.)

Sometimes I rip the letter open right then and there . . . incapable of restraining my eager delight. I have been known to sit down right there at the mailbox to revel in the words written on the page–the special thoughts of a kindred soul.

Sometimes I bask in the knowledge of a sweet letter still unread in my hands. I hurry to my favorite secret spot to read it in the ambiance of beautiful autumn nature. There are times when the delight of a yet unopened letter makes the opening of the letter that much more special.

Unfortunately, I have not received such a letter for a very long time. I do get special little notes pushed under my door by my sweet dorm girls very frequently. These have a dear special place in my heart as well. Walking into my room, seeing an envelope on the floor with my name on it–“Grace”, “Gracie-Lou”, “Lou”–thrills me!

All that to say . . . I still think that the delight of sitting down and hand-writing a letter outweighs all the delights of receiving a letter. I honestly do so love to write a letter to a kindred spirit, pouring out my thoughts on paper, writing of the delights of the little things in life, folding up the paper and hiding it away in the envelope, writing on the outside in whimsical handwriting, licking the stamp (I love the lick ones!), and taking the delightful walk to the mailbox. Ah, the bliss!

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”. ;-)