Sunday, March 29, 2015

A birthday week to remember

The days flew by this week. We've met so many friends already but the time with family is amazing as well. It's Sunday morning, and we're looking forward to being with Lia and Ben at Elevation in Kirkland.

Tuesday, March 24
It's the 26th birthday of our youngest, Jonathan. He's in our prayers all day. From the first surprise that we were expecting a baby (our fourth), we've enjoyed this child. He was always a connector, engaging with friends and family in a peace-making way.

Sad face, perfectly done
Miss K has a play date with a friend in the morning. She puts on a sad face for Oma (as opposed to her happy face) as I walk out the door for a trip to Costco with my friend Martha. Back home, Indonesians comment on the quality of goods that come to the West. It's true: plump meats, the best of spices, the size of food portions - the shelves groan with premium goods. Pecans, oils, peppers, cheeses, and vanilla. They're all here in bulk, neatly stacked.

I'm looking for a commercial tablecloth for our dining table back home. Found! and I graze the aisles for other things for hospitality. (W and I are already packing to stay within our luggage limit.)

M and I eat lunch at YehYeh's: Vietnamese soup and sandwiches. W and I have missed the breadth of Asian flavors and the varieties of restaurants in Seattle. Our friends are graciously meeting us at our favorite haunts. I try to squeeze in a nap in the afternoon, like a good granny should.

"Where are you going, Oma?" Miss K asks as we're once again standing at the front door in the evening.

"It's Oma's play date," I tell her. What a relaxing supper date with friends in Kirkland!

Afterwards, we pick up Jonathan at his apartment. It's time for his birthday treat - a Chinese foot massage. The Joy Spa in Kirkland is our favorite for excellent $25/hour foot and back treatments. We've gone there for years. By the end of an hour, we're relaxed. W prays a blessing over Jono on the way home. We want our family not only to be favored by God but also to serve where he places us.

The kids and I go for a walk. Then it's off to lunch with the Northwest University Women's group.

Kathleen's table settings are a feast for the eye. We get to meet the new Castleberry grandson. All I can think is, what an exquisite creation of God. Lucky boy, to be born into a tribe that loves him so!

The women have brought soups and salads - deeelicious. Many of these gals have invested in our lives over the years. Our friend Marietta explains to the group how she and her husband encourage their grandkids. When the child is between 12-13 years old, the grandparents spend a week with each, exploring faith and having fun. Wow - great idea!

In the evening, my friend Angela has invited us to Calvary in Seattle. Eva, a friend of years, surprises me by showing up. What a treat! I play a few songs - oh am I rusty or what! - and answer questions about our Indonesian adventure. It's a tranquil setting for reflection and conversation.

I'm under the weather. The cold W passed to the kids on the weekend filters down to me. Regardless, the morning starts at 6am. Jason our home pastor encourages us and catches us up on his adventures over a pancake breakfast. Then a few credentialed women hang out at Lake Forest Park while W rushes home to toss the bedding from the washer to the dryer. (It's one of "those days,"a Western schedule which would be impossible at home because of the traffic in Indonesia.) This is a group I miss more than any other: our Thursdays were precious when we lived here - and are even more dear to me on this visit.

The next stop is the university. Our NWMN leader is engaging in a region-wide "listening tour," stopping in various areas to get the pulse of the service teams. It's fun to meet with so many colleagues and coworkers. I take some strawberries, grapes, and scones home for the kids. Oh yum.

Lunch at the Crab Cracker with Don and Brenda is fabulous. They were our pastors when we left for Indonesia - and are now leading a larger group. They've supported us all along the way and do the same today. Lunch portions are so big I eat a third and pack the rest away (for Saturday's breakfast, as it turns out.)

My head pounds and my teeth hurt by afternoon. I have to cancel the evening run to Ellensburg. I'm supposed to be camping at a retreat center with 160 other women. My body says no. And sleeps from 8pm to 10am the next morning while W hangs out with our sons.

W accepts an invitation to an evening banquet but I can't imagine going anywhere when I awaken. He'll have to represent us. I sleep in and about about noon, my cold begins to clear up and my brain starts to de-fog.

Brenda asks whether I want to ride along to a missy tea at the women's retreat I bailed out of yesterday. YES please! Hurrah. I do get to go at least for a short part ... and it's with my lovely friend driving her Audi through the mountains. Oh - what a sweet bonus from God.

Melissa (not our d-in-love) puts on a beautiful spread. Teacups, fruit, goodies, flowers, framed quotes, and giveaways. We women are serving in Africa, Asia, and the West. It's fun to hear how everyone is coping with cultural adjustments and opportunities - even those who flew in earlier this week. We may be jet-lagged and weary, but we're happy and energized by being together. (Sonia's missing in the photo.)

The first shift of women eat supper together. I sit with old friends and coworkers: such a pleasure - before Brenda and I head home to our own beds and rest.

W's on the boat overnight and has coffee with his regulars in the morning. I'm looking through pictures of him with the kids. "Hey, the little ones will think I was never there," I tell him. "Please remember to take some pictures with me and them!" Though he's the "photographer" with the gear, I'm behind the lens of my IPhone, recording this trip. They look happy and we'll have a lot of pictures to enjoy when we're far away again.

It's my 59th birthday. I get early morning kisses and record Miss K singing Happy Birthday while refreshing my hot water bottle in the kitchen. Then I sneak back to bed for a few more hours, willing my cold into compliance.

Updating my profile on FB this week, I've noticed that my birthdate privacy setting is "me only". I unblock it for the first time. Hundreds of wishes pour in from around the world. I'm surprised and delighted throughout the day by kind and warm comments. W and I have made so many friends over the years. (No wonder Indonesia feels quiet sometimes!) Each name brings a memory or a prayer to mind. We don't take pics all day - I'm having too much fun to remember and W, also recovering from his cold, is tied up with business, from emails to tax prep to paying bills.

Melissa has put flowers, a gift certificate, and chocolates on the table from our kids. My family calls with birthday wishes. Miss K wanted to bake me a pink cake. She and Melissa are hard at work when I finally appear mid-morning. We sample the chocolate frosting and sprinkles. Melissa is an amazing mom: she makes life happen here, runs the household, and then tonight goes off to work while Timo puts the kids to sleep.

Meanwhile, W and I join Mel and Martha for supper. Oh yum. Such good Thai food at Silver Spoon! We go back to their house: the guys are working while Martha and I share memories and transitions. They're retiring from their present post soon so are in the thick of packing and reframing, just as we have been.

I am blessed beyond measure. Thanks everyone!

Read more:
*I made the earth, and created humankind upon it. Isaiah 45:12 ESV

*For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist. 1 Corinthians 8:6 ESV

*For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV

*...and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4 NRSVA

Moravian Prayer: Dearest Jesus, blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord. Let us humble ourselves before you and be always mindful of what you suffered, with great love, for us sinners. Hosanna in the highest. Amen.

From a letter by C.S. Lewis in 1954:
About death, I go through different moods, but the times when I can desire it are never, I think, those when this world seems harshest. On the contrary, it is just when there seems to be most of Heaven already here that I come nearest to longing for the patria. It is the bright frontispiece [which] whets one to read the story itself. All joy (as distinct from mere pleasure, still more amusement) emphasises our pilgrim status: always reminds, beckons, awakes desire. Our best havings are wantings.

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