Monday, February 29, 2016

Sadie Hawkins Day 2016 - Girls, why not ask a boy out today!

This past week fills with friends:
  • A visit with a dear young mom and her adorable kids. Bonus: the kiddos' dad shows up and we get to say hi as well. Afterward, Asha and her daughter Alana come in for a sec. Kinsey comes down and the little girls say hi.
Alana, 5 and Kinsey, 4
  • Early morning time with a friend who fills my soul. Thanks again, Kim. We meet at 6:30 at the Starbucks in the next town. Yup - totally worth getting up 3 hours earlier than usual. May I note that life as a grandmother is much easier on the schedule. (When I hear our kids getting ready for the day from 5:30 onward, I thank God that those years of babies and early mornings have come and gone. Oh yeah!)
  • Our 22-year-long accountability group converges on Seattle at the same time, so we plan a WPPR 4-day retreat on Whidbey Island. Our days fly by and include meditation and devotions, where we share life and faith. WPPRS = Wilhelmina, Phyllis, Patti, and Rosemarie

We go antiquing, visit a sweet sister at teatime (sis of one of the WPPRs), walk the beach, and cook.
Tea at Hanneke's = luxury and beauty.
Oh my, we always cook / eat fantastic food. I gain 3 lbs. In 4 days.

The views are spectacular. The windy weather, with occasional rain and bursts of sunshine, suits us just fine.

In one shop - full of creative clothing and accessories - Wilhelmina surprises me with an early birthday gift, earrings and a necklace. I am ransacking the store, trying to find another after it disappeared from the display.

The shop owner lies about selling it to a neighbor (then to her son's neighbor, bit confusing but I sigh over it being gone) and then she tells W I'm about to buy a similar one so W might want to confess. haha LOVE IT. (Today, I wore it already.)

I have to catch up on my Lenten blog - painting the prayers ... 4 days worth today. First, it's meal prep and delivery for a sick friend. So many have offered to take care of her - that's what a community is about.

And hurrah hurrah hurrah! My "free" piano arrives

- via delivery guys. Their friend works at the Jewish School who gave it to me. Connections matter here as well as in Indonesia: the piano mover chops $125 off his fee because "my friend called me. Oh, and because you have a nice manner on the phone." Thank you! I appreciate it, all 500 lbs of it.

I'm thrilled to plink around a book of Baroque compositions. My soul unwinds in another place as I zoom in on the page of black marks that represent music. AAAh. I shut the door to my office so I don't wake the napping kiddos upstairs.  ("A tight fit, lady," notes the mover. Nope. Perfect. Intimate. Private.) Time to explore.


How I have missed this

solitary pursuit
of fingers on keys and
sound flying

up to the ceiling
and down
and swirling around the room
dancing off the walls
landing in my ears

turn the page again and again
and let the music out
of the wooden box

As I play, the tulips and roses unfold in the vase by the kitchen door.

Read more:
*I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory. Psalm 85:8-9 NLT

*I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13 ESV

*Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6 ESV

*Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her. Mark 1:30-31 ESV

*Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Benevolent Healer, you know the illnesses within your children. Take our hands, make us whole, help us face our fears. Heal us so that we may live the lives that you set forth for us with happiness and health. Amen.

More to think about from a letter of C. S. Lewis to Mary Neylan: On troughs; on believing as an intellectual assent and as a psychological state; the despair of overcoming chronic temptations; and on how God likes to be asked.

20 January 1942

Sorry you’re in a trough. I’m just emerging (at least I hope I am) from a long one myself. As for the difficulty of believing it is a trough, one wants to be careful about the word ‘believing’. We too often mean by it ‘having confidence or assurance as a psychological state’—as we have about the existence of furniture. But that comes and goes and by no means always accompanies intellectual assent, e.g. in learning to swim you believe, and even know intellintellectually that water will support you long before you feel any real confidence in the fact. I suppose the perfection of faith would make this confidence invariably proportionate to the assent.

In the meantime, as one has learnt to swim only by acting on the assent in the teeth of all instinctive conviction, so we shall proceed to faith only by acting as if we had it. Adapting a passage in the Imitation one can say ‘What would I do now if I had a full assurance that there was only a temporary trough’, and having got the answer, go and do it. I a man, therefore lazy: you a woman, therefore probably a fidget. So it may be good advice to you (though it would be bad to me) not even to try to do in the trough all you can do on the peak.

... I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience et cetera doesn’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Delighting in the day

Drawing the prayers, one a day
Kim Martinez put together a "Mastermind" group this year and I joined. Each month, we have 15-30 minutes to share something we're working on and get feedback from other female ministers.

In January, W and I were smacked with the necessity of coming back a few months before our regular furlough for a citizenship application. I mentioned to the women how frustrated I felt.

"Well, you have two choices," said one of my mentor-peers. And then she asked if we had forced our timeline for personal benefit or if we were slacking off.

"No! This is disruptive to our work in SE Asia," I wailed. "So what are my two choices?"

"Either you can skulk around, feel guilty, and think about what you're missing back home ... or you can accept this gift. In which case, you should have a fantastic time and live each day to the full. Go see friends and sponsors. Eat all the foods you miss. Visit the places you love. Attend the churches who pray with you. Make the most of your visit in appreciation of the God who plans your steps - including this time in Seattle."

I chose the latter. All the advisors who said, "Keep a personal space so you have somewhere to land when you visit," were right. This has been a haven between a whirlwind calendar. I wake refreshed each morning, ready for the day ahead.
Night and day - the gift of a relaxing space!
Saturday, February 20.16
Chore: Canadian passport pictures. Two years of travel have filled all the visa pages so I have to renew my passport. I get photos taken at the only place I can find to do it - 10 miles away. It takes 15 minutes to get there via freeway and surface streets. While the photos are developed, I head for lunch in the next city. 5 miles. 10 minutes. (I know. I know, my envious Indonesian friends!)
Our steep hill by day. Where are the people? The cars?
And the full moon shining down our driveway by night
Coleena lives on the coast, a few hours away. She lived in Seattle and was part of the Thursday morning friends group before I moved. She emails me that she's back in town: shall we meet?

Oh yes! I'm always happy to catch up. Especially, I love the way Coleena tackles the challenges and opportunities that come her way. Though she's not comfortable with change, she is very brave. She moves forward to see what God will do.

We meet at Overlake, where hundreds of kids and their chaperones are on retreat (Nitro). (Coleena and her husband are here with a bunch from their church, too.) The rooms crawl with families; children bounce on the air toys outside and run the halls together.

It's back to Bellevue to pick up the pictures and send off the passport renewal. I always have a sick feeling in my stomach when I let go of my documents. There's no help for it. I'm going nowhere until the new one is in my hands.

I'm slightly ambivalent about my choice of where to go to church. Somehow it doesn't fit the day. Shall I walk - but the weather says rain - so I decide to drive ...

Except that a friend calls and says, "Come to Shoreline." W and I were going to visit anyway and that clicks into place. I pass the door of the Indonesian congregation in the same building.

"Selamat pagi," I say to the young man. He looks startled. "I live in Indonesia." And he nods.

I enjoy the music. And I get a warm welcome. The program contains detailed notes for the sermon. We are out by noon.
Pastor Bob Stone 
I get to visit with Waldemar's former boss - Dan and Sharon keep in touch and are near the top of our list for this trip back (and I'll see them twice!) They're people who show up to help others. It's fun to hear about a recent road trip and their adventures as retirees.

By the time I get home, our three sons are working away at the network. They go up and down the stairs: the main equipment is in our closet in the basement but wires run through all the walls. W and I pulled those wires in 1994 while the house was being built. These guys are all techies: they pop the speed of our internet to "incredible" ... especially compared to our creepingly crawlingly slow access in Indonesia.
Band of brothers - hard at work, or is it play?
I've been waiting to catch up with Diane since I got here.Finally, we connect in Everett. Starbucks, of course! She planted a church north of Seattle six years ago and has good advice.

The day wraps up with a trip to the "Sunday restaurant" Voula's - oh yum! Jonathan and I meet for supper and a chat. How I miss these times with our kids. 

I take a long walk around the neighborhood in the sunshine. Yup, the sun has come from behind the clouds and beams on the city. Glad I didn't miss that.

The kids come down for orange juice. They share the stepstool by the back door and make the lower shelf of the counter their little table.

Then they're off to find their "toys in socks." I've wrapped a doll and a stuffed mouse in new Daiso socks (which I'll wear on the plane home). The kids search for them each time we visit.
Where will she show up next?
I take a break from editing a doctoral proposal. I'm moving bookshelves to make way for the coming piano when I find a charcoal self-portrait behind my office door. The quick 14"X20" sketch was a class assignment. I remember how weird it felt to look my own eyes in the mirror and figure out the shape of my nose.

And how I hated the scrape and scratch of charcoal on newsprint! I disliked the dust from rubbing and shading, too. But 8 years later, I am glad I didn't throw it out. I check my art drawers: I gave away most of my supplies when we left Seattle. Aha! there's still a box of charcoal and the sketch pads are with the artwork. Maybe just maybe I'll try to sketch again some day ...

Read more:
*Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. Proverbs 14:22 NIV

*The word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

 "Alas, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am too young."

But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:4-8 NIV

*For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:9-10 ESV

*There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do 
with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 NIV

God, your ways are perfect. You plan our days and we are safest and happiest when we align with your plans.

Please give us the wisdom to hear you clearly. And help us to obey you with all our hearts today and in the future. Amen.

C. S. Lewis on the ordinariness of life in Christ:
Before I became a Christian I do not think I fully realized that one’s life, after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before, one hopes, in a new spirit, but still the same things.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Strokes and steps

Monday, February 15, 16
In the afternoon, Rosie and I head to the art store for a demonstration on sketching. We watch the artist and then copy a few photographs in the last half hour.

None of it is worth saving but I snap two pictures before throwing away my sketches. Drawing a few lines with a ballpoint pen, I'm reminded of my excellent instructor when we lived in England: he could make a pencil sing a song or tapdance on paper.

I get some time with our youngest son: the food is good but the company is excellent.

The kids come downstairs to say hi. Only Omas let them go outside barefoot (these two are warm-blooded! and insist they are not cold). They explore what stones feel like underfoot. Sharp-eyed Miss K points out a woodpecker on a 30 meter (90') maple. Her brother is intrigued.

"My dad hates woodpeckers," she confides to me. No wonder. Many of the tallest trees have died off behind the house: several birds drill for insects in the forest.

I'm in the mood for creative cooking. I fry Chinese sausage with shallots and the remaining kale from a Costco salad bag. I mix in huckleberries and peanut butter while the noodles boil. Finally, I sprinkle cranberries and pistachios on top (more salad fixings). It's surprisingly delicious when nose, eyes, and hands work together on food preparation. It may not be the kind of meal you plan or replicate ... but it hits the spot!

The grandkids' parents go for a quick date night after putting the kids to bed. When they leave, Levi wants a back massage before he settles in. I have plenty to read on my IPad. I tuck my feet under me as I sit on the sofa in the dark living room. 

Little Isaac wakes up just before T&M come down the driveway. His round eyes glow in the moonlight shining through a skylight. 

He's completely relaxed but I get the giggles, watching his cute face. He perks right back up. So his mom gets to settle him back to sleep. Sorry, Melissa. Bad Oma.

I print out some pages of recent writing (blogs and a book idea) before I leave. It's just after 8am when I stuff the paper into my shoulder bag to walk down the hill. I'm late for the writer's group at Lake Forest Park Mall (3.5 miles). It takes under an hour in the fresh cool air. I miss my Bandung walking group and the hills of Bandung.

A creepy guy dressed in black cruises by on his bicycle. He has an open pail on his luggage rack but I can't see inside. He first passes me in the park where I short-cut a corner off the block and then rides by twice more on the Burke-Gillman bike trail. He stops and examines the cement plant across the street from the trail.
What luxury! books, books, and more books in my language ...
I report him as a suspicious person when I walk past city hall, but the women sitting and chatting behind the information desk refuse to pass the message to the police. I'm already late so don't have time to go to the police station. On their lazy heads be it if he's a psycho.

Time with the writer's group flies by. I get good help and tips before looking for my ride home. 

Melissa and her kiddos are at a library storytime. I can't see them from the library entrance. Maybe they're gone? I call Melissa but there's no answer so I hang around for ten minutes before I decide to start walking. 

She calls when I'm on the trail furthest from the street: she gets no reception in the library and missed my call but they're on the way home. I climb from the trail up the steep hill to the main road - oops, they've driven by already. Down again at the next crossroad. Feels like hiking back home: I love it.

It's a short 5 miles total, on happy feet: my tracker says I've been lazy this week with so much driving. It feels so good to be walking outside.

Today, I participate in a call from the women's caucus on the same continent as most of the rest of the gals: usually we're on FaceTime at 4am, Indonesian time. This time I'm not in PJs but dressed and in my right mind. 

I spend the rest of the afternoon reading and writing (13 book reviews). A few books stand out in my reading: some are comedies, some are informative, and some are inspirational. I guess I just love books. I feel greedy, gulping words I understand like a starving student. I won't run out: there are 53 more books waiting on my IPad Kindle.
One of my favorite reads today
I find a wonderful verse for today's Lenten blog (Day 7). I memorized this passage years ago; it reminds me of God's faithfulness through the decades.

Yes Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you. 
Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. Isaiah 26:8

May it be so. Amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Filling to the brim

Wednesday, February 9.16
My mom calls. She remarks that I need a new hairdo: my long face looks likes Grandma's (her mom) and needs a lift. So I head for the bathroom. In 4 "hold-and-cut-across" passes on dry hair, I take an inch off. It's relatively straight, takes 2 minutes including cleanup, and lifts the weight off the ends. It's probably time to color it for body, too. But I'm done.

Three meetings this morning - which flow into each other. The first is ife-giving, a visit with a friend. We are joined early by women attending the second meeting.

It is a treat to hang out "in English!" with people I love and trust. The gals are in ministry of one sort or another. We catch up on things I've missed before exchanging prayer requests for concerns. We share what the future may hold.

The final meeting is an extension: the gal who introduced the idea of W and me going to Indonesia is there. Hurrah!

The beautiful NW: moss in abundance
We're meeting in a food court with a bookstore adjacent. (Danger alert.) I wander over and get lost for a few hours. Oh the treat of so many English books! I browse, graze, and flip pages. I even find a poetic fantasy that a friend wants - except that she orders it online so I get to keep it.

At Ross' next door, I find a discounted dump truck and digger for grandson Levi. He takes to it immediately when he comes down to the basement for a visit.

I notice something strange. I feel fuller, more like myself. When I set off from Bandung, my inner self was tapped out. Not speaking much English, missing the exchange of ideas, the ability to read and absorb information ... it becomes draining. Between meetings, art demos, library books, and driving the car here and there, I'm almost back to life.

One of the greatest pleasures is time with role models. I forget to take pictures today but in the morning, I meet Louise G, a dear mentor and prayer support to me and many others.

"Take all your pictures in the first years because soon you won't see anything unusual," she counseled me before we left for Indonesia. She based her comment on her years of service in China. And she was absolutely right - when people visit us in Bandung, they point out things we no longer find strange.

Over a late lunch, I join Phyllis at Molbaks, a garden shop. The café used to seem like a tropical paradise. Now I feel at home in the lush green surroundings.

I even find two small potted plants in the 70% discount area before I leave. Unwrapping them, I feel at home: I have no animals here, but at least I have a few plants on Grandma's dresser!

Shall I go or stay home? I pull myself out of bed and head out the door to a mid-day demo of painting portraits at the Daniel Smith art store.

I love Alison's style of teaching: she's both fun and funny. And her work is amazing. We see a face emerge in color blocks, using only color markers. I learn a lot by watching and listening. (I can understand everything. WOW!)

A good start on a friend's face
In the evening, it's sleepover time. Levi says goodnight but MissK stays over. She talks herself to sleep and talks through the night. I don't get to bed until midnight and I'm a light sleeper. I listen while she tosses and turns.

When she whispers before 7am, "Oma, are you awake?"

... I groan to myself. And she says, "My stomach's kind of rumbly. I think it wants to eat something."

So she hops and I roll out of our beds and this clever 4-year-old makes her own breakfast.

"Can I make a snack, Oma?" She raids the pantry for 4 (handfuls / scoops) of berries, almonds, currants, dried grain sprouts, chocolate chips, and yoghurt. Good girl: she eats a bowlful before heading upstairs to get ready for church.

And since I don't have any obligations today, I head happily to our home church: Creekside. I attend "Softer Sunday" at 9 and the regular service afterwards. It's refreshing to hear Pastor Andy's encouragement and shake hands with people we love.

Pastor Don and Brenda come by to send a hello and pass greetings to W - they and the current pastor Jason have been great partners and supporters. I always feel at home at Creekside.

Like each day, I work on the Lenten discipline of "Paint what you Pray." Today it's a reminder of how much the Cross and church mean to me. Jesus is all in all on Valentine's Day, God's love in person among us.

Read more:
*He will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great. Psalm 115:13 ESV

*Come; for everything is ready now. Luke 14:17 ESV

*(Love) does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 ESV

*For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Gracious Lord, through your blessings we become ready for all things. We are strengthened with your grace and guided by your Spirit. We hope for every opportunity to show that we are ready to answer your call. Amen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Note: the Lenten Blog starts today at SimpleLIFE. Subscribe there or hop over daily.

A new Lenten discipline for a friend and me this year is painting a daily medallion daily until Easter. Today the art spiral begins at the outer fringe:

46 days of remembering:
40 days of Lent plus Sundays
A palm frond in the fire and a smudged cross

I walk a few miles down the hill in the morning, meeting a friend for brunch and a heart-to-heart exchange. We visit the children's section of the bookstore to look for illustrators: she has authored children's books that our granddaughter just loves.

Melissa and their kids come for a visit - what a privilege to enjoy their company.

Later, the kids are watching me start to paint. My big mug of tea slips back and off the desk as the kids lean forward on the front of the art book. Oops, a splashed half-litre of yellow-brown douses the white drapes, floor, desk, books, and ... whatever else is in the way. I send the kids upstairs like a good Oma and mop up what I can.

Ah, hurry! Snatch the books, paints, monitor, computer off the deska. Get those curtains off the rod. That means, get a chair. Stand tall. Unscrew the rod. Strip off the fabric rings. Dripping tea, run to the washing machine. Too late - faint tea dye has done its job. Ah well.

In the evening, there's an Ash Wednesday service at Inglewood Presbyterian Church. I come home refreshed and blessed.

Read more:
*We also will serve the Lord, for he is our God. Joshua 24:18 ESV

*[God of power and mysteries] During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king." Daniel 2:19-23 NIV

*Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 1 Corinthians 4:1 ESV

Moravian Prayer: In us, O Lord, you have entrusted a sacred obligation. To us you have shown the great mysteries of your love; in humility you find greatness, in weakness you find strength, in self-giving you find abundance, and in death you find life. May we always be guided by the mystery of your love. Amen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rest and reboot

Seen in the bookstore: Magnus Muhr's "fly calendar"
Edging toward mid-week, time is flying by.

Monday, February 8.15
After finishing some work, I go to meet my friend - except that our appointment is tomorrow. My first instinct is to go home and start over. But I have so few days that are completely unscheduled. So I think,
"If you could do anything, what would be relaxing and a good day off?"

- and of course I end up in a bookstore. Ah, the ease of reading everything my eyes land on ... how I've missed it. I pick up some greeting cards for Indonesia, a few gift books, and a couple of $1 novels.

As my daughter and I talk on the phone, a little calendar catches my eye ... honestly, some people may have too much time on their hands - when you can sketch feet on flies and make them jump? Too much time indeed. But it makes me laugh aloud. People turn to see what's so funny.

Basement dining: my favorite restaurant = home
I troll the little mall and get a lumbar support for driving in the car ($1.50 from Daiso.) Cool. I have one in Bandung and it helps ease the pressure of sitting in traffic.

Melissa has cooked and invites me upstairs for supper (good) - though something has been nagging at my brain all day. There's something important today, isn't there? but there's nothing on my calendar. I'm puzzled but decide to make it an early night.

Until another son calls, "Hey Mom, I don't see you here..."

and I pencil in eyebrows and eyeliner and dash out the door to meet him. We have a good chat. But yikes. (We left this child at church once - I get a shivery sense of deja vu. He was an undemanding child to have around but this is ridiculous.) We agree to meet each week - and it's now on my calendar. I love my kids and am so glad they are forgiving when I totally crash out of the supermom program.

It's foggy. I'm out the door early in the grey gloom. Ah, this color and damp cold? I haven't missed it at all.

Traffic on my walk around the neighborhood:
none. (Feel envious, Jakarta and Bandung?)
My friend Terry is ordering breakfast when I walk in. How I've missed our time of connection - we used to meet each week. I get so wrapped up in our conversation that I forget to snap a picture. We share prayer requests before she starts off to her day and I'm off to the next appointment.

I've missed this place a lot! Joy Spa (Kirkland) offers a one-hour leg and back massage @$30. Laura and I meet there, and it's her first time there so we relax and unwind.

Then it's my turn for a first - lunch at one of her favorite Chinese restaurants. I order basil chicken - which tastes very American to me after being gone (like the Chinese food in Indonesia tastes very Indonesian.) Adaptable and tasty cuisine. L's family spent a few months with us last year - she knows the people and places we talk about. And her family's adapting to routines after a year of travel. What fun to catch up.

Cute - and welcome!
Trying on Oma's reading glasses
On the way back, the sun is shining, my walking shoes are in the car, and I'm ready. I park the car and hop out at the bottom of a steep hill. Up up up - and then around the neighborhood (3.5 miles) until it's back down to the car and home.

The kids are off to the park in the sunshine but they stop by for a quick visit and some stories. I pull out a children's book with Mandarin script. We make up a story -

but Miss K asks, "Oma, why do they say, 'Oh my, oh my, oh my?'" so I tell her this book has no words we can read so we can make it say whatever we want. That's a new idea. (My own kids were used to such quirks. haha A new generation of creative minds is coming up!)

A few phone calls and chores and the day is almost done.

Read more:
*They went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel. 1 Kings 8:66 NIV

*Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.

Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV

*And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there.

But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:8-10 NIV

*We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV

*Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, the good you do for our sake fills our hearts with joy. Teach us to bring that joy to others, so they too may behold your love and grace. In your name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The price of a mission

Thursday, February 3.15
Oh, a great start to the day: a visit with a dear friend. We meet at 7am - like we used to when I lived here (except then we met later). One of the things I miss most in Indonesia are the rhythms of consulting with others. It's hard to share thoughts when you're not fluent in the language ...
Refresh: add carnations and
baby's breath to an aging bouquet
But Kim and I pick up where we left off and I hear her heart and call - with new insights and maturity. I'm encouraged. Then she's off to work and I dash home to hand over the car: the kids have a busy day today!
A friend indeed
When the sun goes down, I walk about two miles to a regular gathering. I get a bit lost in the dark neighborhoods, walk a longer distance, and that's not all bad. I pass three others walking and few cars: it's a lonely night out there.

These friends have met almost 20 years, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, and for richer and poorer. Like Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, they've stuck together and supported each other in good times and bad. They pray and partner with each other and with us. Several couples are traveling so we miss them.

I feel privileged to share how much we love Indonesia and why we're there. Bonus: Bev has made excellent apple and peach pies. I have a thin slice of each. Oooooh. Yummy.
Thursday night group
Good friends give me a lift home - it's chilly in the evening!

I have to drop by Northwest University to get some gear for a Jakarta friend. Autumn treats me to a cup of tea and an update. One student strolls past her basement window: "Hey, I'll see you in a minute!" I am startled to my feet and dash out the door.

"Lem! Lemuel!" My nephew turns in surprise. Yup, it's his aunt - and he gives me a hug and agrees to meet for Sunday lunch. How cool is that?! I was hoping to catch up with him and here he is.

I have an appointment with a gal I am coming to love. Jenn makes me laugh - and think. She shares her life with me, raw and real. She's my age, a children's author, and a mad reader, so we have a lot to talk about. Time flies by - and we're just getting started.
Jenn and Rosie - at Jay's Café
I can't believe how much I'm eating, though I pack half away for later. Jay's Café is the local greasy spoon with huge portions and hearty home-cooked tastes. (I get 2 more meals from the leftovers.)

The pots of tea are big - and when Rosie joins us, she orders the same. Jenn heads out and I find another artist friend in Rosie: what a joy to meet women who love God and live life to the full.

The kidlets (grandkids) come for a visit before bedtime: it does an Oma's heart good!

At 7:45am,  I show up for a 10 o'clock seminar (I think). I'm #16 in line, in spite of showing up 2 hours early. The blurb for the seminar said they'd take about 50 people. The offer is free legal help in applying for American citizenship. W and I have a few questions. Meanwhile, our friends are praying that all goes well.

W filled out forms in advance, wrote out questions to ask the lawyers, and prepared documentation for any questions they might have. I have a thick envelope of papers and a tall mug of tea. It takes no time at all to complete the initial screening - I'm soon in chair #2 in the waiting room.

For the next few hours, a Mexican immigrant tells me his story: he loves his work at the airport and can't wait to become a citizen. I quiz him on the citizenship test: I only need to know 20 / 100 answers. (I've been a resident over 20 years so need to study less items than he.)

Finally, we are called into another room where the volunteers - paralegals and lawyers - are kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. Bart, a lawyer who specializes in naturalization, offers answers no one else knows. His folks lived in Indonesia: his mom grew up in Bandung. What are the chances? His Dutch grandpa was in government in Bali.

I'm pre-screened as eligible for citizenship. Do I want to proceed? Sure. Thanks, Erin, for your help!
Thanks for your help, Lawyer Erin!
Into another room, a paralegal copies W's forms into her own. Another lawyer has to check that everything is correct. Bart claims me, makes sure all is in order, and signs my papers.

"Go to Walgreen's for passport pics: 2 for this form and 2 for the passport later," he tells me. "Then you're done."

I'm the first one finished, thanks to W's prep. I write a $780 check and get photocopies of everything, along with an envelope with all the forms ready to mail. 

"Don't lose these," say the copier volunteers. "Keep your copies in a safe place."
Smiles at the photocopier: "You're the first one through!"
The final item is an exit interview. The gal asks for permission to snap my photo for possible promotion. Sure, but why do they want a pic of a blond when the other applicants make me feel at home? = they were beautifully dark-haired! I'm the palest applicant by far.

I drive out of the parking lot in shock. I'm done? I thought I was getting advice ... and instead, I have a signed citizenship application. I pull into a Walgreen's to get pictures taken - the guy pulls down the screen and loops a chair leg through the handle to keep it down. The fix makes me feel at home. I seal the envelope with photos, check, forms, and a prayer enclosed, and drive to the nearest post office. $9  and 10 minutes later, the check is in the mail.

Did I just do this?! Citizenship has become a necessity because we work overseas for an American organization We have our residence here but when we travel, it's become a hassle to re-enter the country. To ward off possible confiscation of our 30-year Green Cards and the diversion of time and money that would mean, we know we need to take this step.

Though we are applying only because of work, our organization declines it as an expense, other than the flight. They define citizenship as "your personal benefit:" so the +$800 for pics / application / postage comes from our personal funds. It's a squeeze. (A Green card gives all the responsibilities but our new rights would be to serve on a jury and to vote ... and pragmatically, to negotiate the border without detention.)

Yikes: citizenship is one of the high costs of doing the mission. Those who work overseas say the unexpected bumps are the fiercest surprises. So true - my body reacts with the start of an ocular migraine, its marker of super-stress.

But our grandkids come downstairs and say hello - we play 101 Dalmations and I'm Cruella, except that I'm a nice one who catches kids and is good to them. Kinsey hops from one "island" to another (between couch, chair, and rug) to avoid being caught. She and Levi jump into the playpen and we heap them with pillows. They remind me of what is important.

Kinsey sleeps over - and her little brother comes down to help make pancakes for breakfast. When they're done eating, they brush their teeth over the bathroom sink.
"Levi, spit in the sink!" Miss K demonstrates.

I have the day off, so I go to Elevation Church in Kirkland. Pastors Ben and Lia discuss what good relationships are - and practical ways to foster strong marriages. It's a good reminder - and makes me miss my husband.

And then I have the first good Thai food in a year - in great company. Kids, grandkids, nephew. What's not to love?

Read more:
*For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. Psalm 33:4-5 ESV

*Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. Psalm 90:1-2 NKJV

*O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 97:10 ESV

*Lord, you gave your good spirit to instruct our ancestors. Nehemiah 9:20 ESV

*We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Loving Spirit, we rejoice because you have called us into relationship with God. You have opened to us God’s word which proclaims the wonders of God’s work. You make us aware of all God’s miracles surrounding us each day. Amen.

CS Lewis: Mere Christianity
There are three things that spread the Christ life to us: baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names—Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper.

If you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.