Sunday, June 30, 2013

images of a sunday... and a little talk, too

We're in a heat wave. I hear it's the same thing all over the West. Isaac called the weather recording on the phone this afternoon, and that man's voice said it was 112 degrees. Just to be sure, Eliza called a few hours later and it was down to 108. I'm not kidding you when I say it's like walking into an oven just going outdoors. A hot dry oven. Too hot to do anything out. Eating supper on the deck this evening was just too much. I found myself dripping with sweat even inside the house.

Call me crazy, but I turned the oven on to bake this afternoon. I think it was totally worth it, though. There are a lot of good strawberries and blueberries in the fridge that needed to be used up.

Sam's cellphone started blaring right in the middle of our church services today. A whole conglomeration run-through of alarm sounds. He was sitting there right next to me and couldn't get it to stop in what seemed like forever. Embarrassing, nerve wracking, startling, and funny all at the same time. I saw a lot of subdued smiles looking our way. Poor kid. He said he for sure thought it was on silent.

Speaking of church. Eliza addressed our congregation this morning. This young woman of fifteen years, given a situation and a learning experience that could be so intimidating to most people, standing and speaking so confidently and so poised up there at the podium. She had put so much time and thought this week in preparing for it. She spoke so eloquently, but most of all, she spoke her heart.

After church, I took a much needed nap. Even if it was only for a half an hour. After that, I packed up my massage table and headed over to work the little legs of my (almost thirteen year old) friend D______. He lives just around the corner from us. He has cerebral palsy. He is probably the sweetest young man I know, with a smile that lights up the room. I've been so blessed to go to his house every Sunday afternoon and thankful that we've become good friends. This makes me very happy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

sharing her talents and gifts: neighborhood art classes here at the blue house

It's certainly more than just a summer job.
The idea came to her last fall. She wanted to find a way to earn money, of course, but even more, she wanted to apply, experiment, and share what she herself had experienced for so much of her youth.
Throughout the years, we've been blessed to have mentors for Eliza who've taught art classes in their homes. Each of these role models have helped inspire, educate, and light the creative spark inside that little artist heart of hers.
The seed that was planted within her is now growing and flourishing.
You learn so much more about the thing you love when you teach it to another person.
And as I've observed all that she's done to make this little entrepreneurial and teaching experience unfold, I've been so amazed at what she's learning through this whole process. Every bit of it, she herself owns.
She's self- motivated. She's learning to plan. To organize. To initiate. To be her own boss. To envision and then make her ideas a reality.
To communicate with parents/adults-- through phone calls, face- to- face conversations, and email-- her detailed lesson plans and course outlines. Plans and ideas that she alone has spent so much time and thought into making it become the best possible experience for these students of hers.  
She's learning how to market herself in advertising her lessons through the fliers she took around in our area.
She is learning how to project her income and then budget accordingly her funds to buy and maintain supplies. Tithing or donating 10% of what she earns to donate to others in need.
She's learning what it means to teach. Developing her love and understanding of little children in a concrete, real world way.
She's understanding that it's the joy of the creative process that children need when it comes to art instruction. The chance to experiment with different media. A chance to look at the world in a whole new way. An opportunity to learn about the elements of art in a happy, no pressure way. The chance to be inspired by famous artists in history. A chance to play. To form new friendships. To have a teenage mentor and example to look to.
I stand off in the sidelines, silently watching her, letting her fly. Standing in awe at the way her positive, kind and gentle nature blesses these thirteen children. Amazed at the quiet, creative atmosphere of learning and respect that she's created, carefully planned and worked for. Observing her never ending patience. Her  developing leadership. Her developing confidence. Hearing encouraging, praising words coming out of her mouth. Inspired by the calm, presence she exudes in all the ways she gently leads them along.
And I see the faces of these sweet children who look up into her own. Looks of admiration, adoration, and wonder. Looks of love. Looks of happiness.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

red letter day

i sat there in my desk last night after it all,
reading those words he'd left on the back 
in red ink.

how from the very first day,
he had sensed it so strongly in me.

the compassion. the knowing.

and that sentence at the end,
all underlined, too.

you were made for this work.

it needing me.
me needing it.

words a gift.
words a reminder.
words a confirmation.

enough for tears.
sweet and warm.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

because he loved her so

The sun loved the moon so much
he died every night
to let her

She calls me over to read these words
while I stand here 
chopping the onions.

I don't know who wrote this.
But I do know that this simple expression
moves me deeply.
Touches me enough
for tears to come.
Enough for a contented
and even an aching, audible
to escape these lips.

And wasn't it a synchronicity
not too long afterward
when she beckons me once again
to come upstairs to the bedroom window
this time
where both of us now
stand and gaze in wonder
facing the eastern and
mountain edged skyline.

Sharing this fleeting moment at day's end.
This magical twilight time, this dusk time.
This space between fading light of day 
and night's dark and silent descent.

And once again, my lips part
in an awed, aloud gasp
and I breathe
in and out
at the sheer and utter beauty
of it all.

The completeness
of an idea
and now a vision:

These lingering words.
This big beautiful ball of light.

Arising now
ever so slowly
from her mountain bed.
Alive now,
little by little
with each breath she takes.
All because he loved her so.

Friday, June 21, 2013

midsummer day

Summer is in full swing. Today being the official first day and all. In honor of the day, I thought I'd share these photos I took this morning. Doesn't summertime just bring light and joy to your heart? I know it does to me.

These summer days seem bursting with good things, while at the same time, bring a quietness that I like. A nice balance between the usual routine of daily life mixed with a relaxed, lazy feel.

My days and my life are filled with mostly the same day-to-day-ness. Quiet, unrushed, cool mornings. Various mid-morning massage sessions throughout the week. Watering the plants and work in the garden. Tidying the house. Solitude in my corner chair with my books. Time in the kitchen with mealtime preparation, as is usual, summertime or not. Study and naps in the afternoon. School at night.

The children seem happily engaged. Eliza's neighborhood art classes are held here two afternoons a week. Sam occupied with his own job, basketball practice, and time spent with friends. Isaac has his nose constantly in a book, playing board games with friends, creating with paper, pen, and the usual Legos strewn about. He and I will go bowling in a little while for our little Friday adventure.

Someone is always hungry and I can't seem to get a handle on the dirty dishes and cups that continually fill the sink.

Today is the Ragnar Relay I've run in years past. I'm missing it this year and kind of longing to be there, running with so many other like minded souls through the back country mountains, small towns, and countryside of our beautiful state. For the last two years, I just haven't had a team to run with. Hopefully, next year I can join in the fun and the crazy memories.

Tomorrow, I have my first Saturday off (one out of two until I'm finished in October) from my shift at the school clinic. I'll be attending an all day holistic health conference and am looking forward to learning new things and the rejuvenation I know I'll come away with.

Speaking of Midsummer Day: Gary wrote home on Monday that in Finland, this day (and tomorrow) is an official holiday. He's been invited by some church member friends to spend tomorrow in a country cottage in the forest. (Doesn't that sound nice?) He says that when he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, it's still bright outside. He's loving his life there in Finland.

And our Jane writes that she's never been as happy as she is now there in her own first area of missionary service in Taiwan. She's living in a small rural and isolated town on the eastern seaside; surrounded by mountains, jungle, and rice paddies. She loves her non-English speaking Taiwanese companion Sister Wu. She rides her bike everywhere, ( "My legs are all beat up from falling so many times...") and about the new cuisine, she says, "They know that I'm not picky, that I've been really trying to eat what they offer, and they love that. So far this week, I have eaten the eyes from a fish (the best part?) that Shi Jiemei wanted me to eat, since I am new I guess, century egg slices, bamboo, seaweed, green bean juice (really, mashed up cooked green beans with water.. the beans they eat here are always sweet, never salty), lychee, and some other things that I don't know what they were..."

Her letters also tell of "bug bites all over, mangoes, papaya, guava, sweat, tai chi, getting lost out in the dark countryside last night, seeing the stars, smiling so much my mouth hurts, because there's not much I can say, church choir practice, new experience using the train bathroom, and very beautiful people, with whom I am so happy to learn from and serve. They are teaching me so much. I am so happy. Yuli is heaven on Earth."

I couldn't be happier for these two. They are living their dreams. They are happy and well. They are trying to serve with their whole hearts. They are learning and growing in ways too numerable to count. They are being blessed.

And on this midsummer day, I too am living my own dreams. My life is so full. So beautiful. So very blessed.

Happy Summer, friends!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

afternoon view

"Oh for a book and a shady nook, either in door or out."
~ John Wilson

Friday, June 14, 2013

friday funday: we go for a hike in goblin valley

I decided to take the kids on a little adventure today. Fridays seem like the day for this kind of thing. There are just so many beautiful and diverse places in our state to discover and explore.
We left at seven o'clock this morning and arrived for our hike right when things got really hot. It's a desert after all. Good thing we brought along plenty of water.
Even though the drive was long and it would have made more sense to go at a cooler time of the year, we still had fun just being together. That's all that really matters when it all comes down to it.
Here's what made today special. And memorable:
:: Packing special foods.
:: Singing opera in the car and laughing about it.
:: Time to talk.
:: Getting pulled over for a speeding ticket. (not so special.)
:: A chance to see new sights.
:: The absolute delight when a nice breeze would come through, cooling down our sweaty, hot bodies.
:: An opportunity to take lots of photos. 
:: Trying to figure out the language of all the foreign tourists.
:: Finding relief in shady spots like the caves we happily discovered and crawled into.
:: For the friendship and love I see between these two.
:: Spotting darting lizards.
:: Taking a nap in shady park on the way home.
:: Pride in myself for having the gumption to allow for some spontaneity, independence, and confidence to grow a little bit more, and for this adventurous spirit to have a chance to spread her wings and FLY!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

summer morning: june roses and pumpkin muffins

When I got out of bed this morning, I felt a little lopsided.
Like, in the shoulder region.
It was trigger point class last night, and boy,
a lot of triggers were released.
Like they just melted away under the fingertips.
I really, really needed this to happen.
We only had time for one shoulder, though.
Which is better than nothing at all.

My instructor walked over to the table I was on,
deciding to use me as his guinea pig.
I wanted to shout hooray.
Which I kind of did.
(I'll be your guinea pig anytime you want.)
Among other things, he stood off to the side
and he pushed his hand
(up to the ends of his fingers)
laterally through my armpit
and all the way to that place under the scapula,
accessing the subscapularis muscle sandwiched
between that and the ribs.
Wow, that was interesting and very amazing.
(Did you know that's even possible?)
And it felt really good in an almost painful way
if that makes sense.

I went running this morning.
I love running early on summer mornings.
I go the same route everytime. I wave to strangers.
In my shorts, cool, but enough to work up a good sweat.

On my way up the hill, I saw the wild roses
creeping up and down over the stone wall.
Sweet, white blossoms.
It was so beautiful and almost took my breath away.
When I got home,
I knew I needed to head back with my camera.

When I got home, he asked me if I'd make pumpkin muffins.
Why not, I thought.
It's a lazy type of morning with nowhere to go
and nothing on the agenda.
(This is one reason I especially love summer mornings.)
He turned his nose up after he found out that I'd put applesauce in them.

Every time I hear the word "Pumpkin Muffin", I think of my fifteen year old daughter Eliza.
Sometimes I call her that.
It just depends on the day or the mood I'm in.
I tend to invent names for my kids that are a little out there.
(They've told me so.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

with or without you (round two)

Dear Jane,
Tomorrow is your birthday, but our tomorrow here is your today there in far off Taiwan.
You are just beginning your day. Waking up to a whole new world.  A whole new world filled with new sights, new sounds, new tastes, new impressions, new people, new experiences. And I can hardly wait for the first email-- all those wonderful details and descriptions we'll receive (hooray for Mondays!) in the next few hours.
It amazes me that you are officially now in your twenties. (That seems old, and makes me feel even older!). You are taking the first steps on your path into adulthood. Entering a new era of growth and discovery in your life's journey.
And I couldn't be more happy for you than I am at this moment. Proud as I am because of you. For the person you've become. For the person you are becoming.
And even though you are far away and far from home, I baked you a cake to celebrate the day. (Vegan! Of course!) And like your brother whose special day we honored and remembered just as we do your own today, we lit the candles and sang to you. Tears welling up warm in my eyes as I silently made a wish for you and blew them all out.
How could I not? How could I forget?
Holding you in my arms, stroking your long, smooth hair, kissing you on the cheek, and loving you with my whole heart...
Your Mom

Saturday, June 8, 2013

picnic in the park

even though it ended up not being the canoeing
i had hoped for tonight,
gliding and paddling our way
through the still, cool waters,

it was still pleasant enough to take
our sandwiches to the park,
lay on the grass
in the middle of all that green,
and sense the sun's slow
descent across
the western sky