Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Family time, birthdays, and visits - a social week indeed

Sunday, March 25, 2018
My parents come from Canada, our daughter and son are here from Texas, and our eldest son and his wife have driven 4.5 hours from eastern Washington.

We're gathered as a family for our faith tradition. We and our children - and now our grandchildren - are given back to God by our parents. Each parent promises to raise the child to love and serve God. And family gathers around and affirms their part - and then the congregation agrees to support our efforts. It's quite wonderful!

Today we are dedicating our granddaughter Makenna to God. It's the first Sunday for Creekside Community Church in their new building, which makes it even more exciting. Makenna cooperates and barely fusses as she's passed around from hand to hand and prayed over.

One of my mentors - a beloved friend who served in China for decades - surprises me with a hug. Louise gave me sound advice on crossing cultures when we considered going to Indonesia, and that counsel continues to resonate in my ears and heart.

Afterward, W and Timothy drive to Szechuan Kitchen to pick up a fantastic take-home lunch. I cook rice (1.3 kg to make 8 c. for 12 people) and the family eats about 1/3 of it. "So much!" we say. And I think of how quickly and completely that would have disappeared in Indonesia.

Oh, how wonderful to have everyone around the table. We used to do this every Sunday but the last of the month. All the kids and families would eat together, laugh, and talk. And now we are spread around the world - so it feels even better to sit at the table together.
Jonathan brings me my favorite chocolate bar as a birthday present.
 Mom has baked her fabulous (and huge) Black Forest Cake - it's a gift to Jonathan and me on our birthday weekend. But everyone enjoys it. YUM YUM YUM. I save a piece for my actual birthday later in the week.
We take good and goofy pictures together:
4 generations of women
Grandparents and grandkids
The siblings goof around

And the guys (but where's my dad?)
Us with our kids

The best auntie and uncle
and patient endurance ... 
Jonathan's on his way to the airport by 3pm; the others leave a bit later. Only Kirsten is left with us by evening. We thank God for safe travels for each one.

Kirsten and I enjoy time together. When the kids come down, she amuses them.

And then, there's tea. The grandkids come down a few times this week for tea parties. I pull out a Staffordshire pot I purchased in Cambridge, England, during W's doctoral studies. Nice memories from there become wrapped up in the tea dates with the kids.
Oma has her teapot ready for refills
Each grand has a favorite "teapot" (animal creamers): Isaac wants his "buk buk" chicken, Levi loves his doggie, and Kinsey says the cat is hers.
Kinsey explains the manners of tea to her littlest brother.
The most fun seems to be refilling the cup from your own teapot after you drink. It's the pouring that the kids like most, of course. There may be tea everywhere by the time we're done but they've had a good time.

Rina's mother in law lives in Bandung. We finally connect in Kenmore - and what a treat to see what she and her family are up to.

Now, please feel free to skip the rant and move on to this symbol, below. Not all is peaches and cream and here's something that really bugs me. Small thing to you? Yeah, should be nothing to me, too.  ---->

Our 4-yr-old grandson pulls his shoulders up and growls, GRRRRRRR when he is irritated. My shoulders are up this morning. After 3 weeks, I give up being in denial. Each time I jump into the shower, I have to ask God for a cheerful heart. AGAIN.

A little corner of home-away-from-home
Each time we come back to our little apartment, I love its crisp light whiteness and art-lined walls. I like the little kitchen where everything is one step away. I like the big oddly-shaped closet-laundry room beside the stairs and the big pantry where we hang winter clothing and stash food.

Those who know me know how visual and space-oriented I am. (That's why the tropics are lifegiving for me = they are bright and warm, loaded with beautiful abundance.) So, in our Seattle apartment, one thing trips me up at 3 weeks. I can block it for a while and it should seem a small thing if I didn't crave light. What is it?

The bathroom feels like a dingy hole. Almost six years ago, I walked into the bathroom being built, to find a 4" stud wall and roughed-in plumbing where I had drawn a wall-window. The window itself was leaning on the wall outside the bathroom.

"What's this?" I asked the handyman, pointing at the plumbing and wall and comparing it to our building sketch, lying nearby.
3 bright lights can't overcome a wall of shade for toilet and shower
As bright as it gets ...
He said it made more sense to him to put the fixture where it couldn't be seen from the door. He had hardly glanced at my drawings but said they looked complicated. Besides, he'd talked to W, who had approved the shower head on the window wall. He would charge us a few hundred dollars more to move it back to our drawing. Whaaat?!

At that point, with my husband mentioned as: "He said this to me and you'll have to pay for changes,"  it took me the blink of an eye to back away. We were headed across the ocean within the year. Probably wouldn't matter, right?

So I caved in. Did I want to fight with my husband after he got out of teaching a class (I couldn't reach him to confirm) or explain a +$000 charge when he got home? Nope. (Turns out, W hadn't said anything to the installer ... W had shown him the sketch of what we wanted.)

Even five years later, by the time I've been here for 2-3 weeks, it catches me off guard. I dislike - no let's tell the truth, I hate - the dark little hole where the shower head is in the wrong place, the water splashes into the far corners and dries slowly, and the thick wall (studs, sheetrock, and tile) shades the light. I remember the 5'X2.5' window that I gave away. I swivel the mirrors on the cabinet to reflect light into the shower but ugh. It's still a damp cave.

I'll be leaving in a week and so I'll block it from my head for another year. That's my consolation. Ok, I'm done with my rant. Get over it, Rosemarie! As she thinks, "GRRRRRR." (A word of advice: if you have a strong vision to get things done a certain way, get them done correctly ... in the process. Make your apologies later as needed.)

Laurie has arranged for me to meet two young students from Bandung in their school cafeteria. Jedy and Eldy are enjoying studies at Cedar Park High School. It's fun to hear what they like and what they miss, studying so far from home.

In the evening, we head to a nearby community center, where dinner is waiting. Caleb, Jonette, and their beautiful kids have provided a feast from one of our favorite Greek restaurants: Mediterranean Kitchen. Lamb Schwarma ... yummmy, what I would have chosen off the menu, can you believe it? (These surprises of confluence or coincidences? make me so happy - we didn't have time to eat there this year and our visit is drawing to an end.)

There's a group gathered by 7, waiting to hear about women in ministry leadership. W explores some of the "difficult passage" from scripture. His studies arose from the assumption that the teaching and practice of the early Church would have agreed. And that conflicts stem from our lack of understanding or historical errors since scripture was written.

We field questions and share our privilege of being in Indonesia. As always, there are alumni from NU in the group, which makes catching up a lot of fun.

Tuesday evening, we catch supper at a great sandwich place on our way to Renton and New Life. We've been invited to Brian's theology class, which wrapping up an 8-week session on Romans. He interviews us and the class asks questions. They affirm their own call to share Good News in their neighborhoods. That makes our hearts sing.

I've been getting birthday wishes from Indonesia since yesterday since they're 15 hours ahead of Seattle. What fun to celebrate for 2 days in a row. The kidlets (grands) come down and jump into bed to wish me a Happy Birthday. And I eat a piece of Mom's Black Forest Cake before lunch as a self-treat. We'll have supper with the kids tonight. Not bad!

Read more:
*Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Psalm 96:2

*Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling: "In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

*You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. Isaiah 54:14
*Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27
*Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20
Moravian Prayer: God of the Sabbath, we learn in the story of Holy Week that Jesus paused to rest upon this day in preparation for what would come at the Last Supper and Calvary. May we pause to remember what you have given us. Amen.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Trip around the world (not quite)

Beautiful eastern Washington looks like Bhutan
When we come back to the States and Canada, some weeks are quiet. We started with that - it takes a while to reconnect. But apparently, that's over. We're in full swing. And on the road a lot.

Saturday, March 18
Our bonus is seeing friends in the evening. They are a treasure along various parts of our journey. Jay and Cheryl are on their way to serve as educators in Africa later this year. Earl and Janet are at NU but were part of my masters and doctoral programs way back in the day.

In the morning, we drive to Riverview, Kent to speak in two meetings back to back. What warm welcomes and great groups of people. Many of Waldemar's former students live in this region so for him it's always a bit of an alumni reunion. I know the names from my job as alumni director, but it's a delight to meet the "names" in person.

Lunch is at Wally's. That is, Andy and Colleen take us to an outstanding seafood restaurant. Since we're near the Pacific coast, the fish and shellfish are freshly caught and delicious.

We have to scoot across the mountain range to Yakima as soon as lunch is over. The weather is glorious: sunshine above - with clouds boiling up in the rearview mirror. There must be a Pacific storm brewing but the mountains keep them to the west of us.

We're speaking to a seniors group in Yakima. Some of the most supportive friends - Lowells, Gunnarsons (Ruth above), Malcolms and others - give us hugs and a warm greeting. We know all the music and sing 9 choruses and hymns with verses! - in 15 minutes (take note, young leaders who think hymns are too long ...) LOVE the spirit of worship and the community that has formed in Yakima.

Jeff and Larry take us to breakfast at the golf club. The prices are half of Seattle's and the food is delicious - we take along leftovers from the heaping plates.

"Make sure you go to Apple King," said several of our friends yesterday. So we do. We follow the GPS along a few empty miles of highway to the apple processing plant. Oh my!

Boxes of apples are stacked and the forklifts buzz in and out of the cold warehouses where apples are stored. These fruits will travel across the world - we have Washington apples in our local Indonesian grocer, so who knows if we'll eat a few ourselves.

We are content with 3 boxes of Pink Lady and 1 of Honey Crisp. Each box contains 34 lbs (15.5 kg) of apples - but all four boxes of crisp, sweet apples cost $33. (Later, we pass a sale notice in at a grocer: $1.49/lb.) Our trunk is full and the sweet smell pervades the car. We pull out a few to munch, washing them off with tea from my thermos and drying them with a restaurant napkin stashed in the car.

Oh, the crunch! We haven't had this taste since we left: by the time we get apples into our fridge in Bandung, they're getting soft and have lost this tree-fresh flavor.

The landscape reminds me of Bhutan - I snap pictures as we descend the hills from Yakima to the flats of Ellensburg. And then it's through the coastal range, out of the sunshine and into the clouds above Seattle.

We have time for a quick snooze before I get to hang out with girlfriends and coworkers in Kirkland. It's a group of credentialed pastors - all female. The community room of Metropolitan Market is their storage closet, with a few tables and chairs between. We agree that we'd rather meet in the main area next time. (In typical fashion, to ensure personal space, a stranger spread her banana peel and books across several places in the nice lounge - so we had headed for the separate room. Too nice, we were.)

It's so great to see these women. I've prayed for each of them over the years - and to see them working and thriving at their calling warms my heart.

We have an early morning meeting on the Kitsap Peninsula. It's a short half-hour on the ferry as the sun comes up. The magnificence of God's world continues to astonish us.

We meet with Wes, Peter, Tom, and Jenni in Silverdale, donuts included. And then there's a room full of enthusiastic volunteers and staff. W and I share what we love about where we serve and listen to what they're about. They're doing a 4-video series on what it means to follow Jesus and live in community. As always, we learn as we listen.
Natural materials sculped along the shoreline
We're on the way back to meet Jake for lunch. Jake has launched a new faith community in his suburb and they are going forward. He has a tender heart for the hurting and we pray as we leave - may God take that gift as a presentation love to those who need it.

I need a nap. But after that, we have supper with dear colleagues from Northwest. All but three are retired so it's a delight to get together and relax. Lots of water under that bridge, for sure. And I forget to take pictures with my phone (W has them so I don't.)

It's Dads and Grandparents Day at the grandkids' community study group. I take the leather frog (yup - a real frog tanned into a leather purse) and an Indonesian puppet for the kids to pass around.

I tell the children a bit about Indonesia. They ask about the animals, about what families are like, and what we like about living there. Kinsey passes out info cards to all the children (her request). W and I go from one class to the next, saying goodbye to the kids before we're on the road again.

We're crossing the Sound on the ferry again. This time the sun's up and it's a beautiful picture all around. W has a package to mail, I want to look around the Sierra Trading Post Outlet store - (my favorite online retailer for the past 15 years) ... and take coffee to yesterday's leaders. W is hungry for Vietnamese food - my pho (noodle soup) is delicious.

Then it's time to drive to Port Orchard to meet a group who is interested in theology. We share our story with Virgil and Mac and about 30 others. What a treat - the questions are thoughtful, the people engaging, and we enjoy them so much that I forget to take a picture.

The rain is back: we're on the freeway for over an hour in the rain and happy to sleep in our warm beds by 10:30pm.

Kim and I meet as usual in the early morning. I hang around to see if some of the "maybes" will show up, do a bit of browsing in the bookstore nearby, and head home.

The 3 grandkids love the pinball games I found on the sale table: the clicking of little balls into the chutes reminds me of my own children's pleasure in such little treats.

Our friends and family, Mel and Martha, are working on this side of the mountains - so we meet at their hotel. The guys do tech and catch up while we gals talk. Good family is hard to find - and they're the best! Plus, they were the ones who first mentioned Indonesia to us, five years ago. If not for them .... ? And I forget to take pictures again!

For supper, we meet Don and Brenda, who were among the first people we told that we were going to Indonesia. They have encouraged, advised, and supported us from the start. They are excited about their own trajectory - wow, how cool to be world-changers at our time in life. I feel like I'm grinning from ear to ear by the time we say goodbye.

Jonathan (our youngest) and Kirsten (our daughter) fly in separately. Jonathan is celebrating his birthday tomorrow but will be at a friend's wedding most of the weekend. It's fantastic to see Kirsten - she is in a pause for her chronic arthritis (thanks be to God) and her joints are better than they have been in years.

I'm off to a women's retreat tonight and tomorrow morning. We sing a song, "I'm no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God." And I pray this over the people we have met, those we care for, and those we love dearly. May each of us have the confidence in God that he is able to sustain and protect us. I feel the love of Christ surrounding me in worship.
Cheryl and Janet make me laugh
It's our youngest son's 29th birthday. We won't see him until tomorrow as he's with friends today. Happy birthday, Jonathan, wherever you are.

Oh, it's so great to meet many old friends. Many of the younger women are now in full voice; they've had experience in speaking and have gained authority and skill. What FUN to see them.
Toss a few beach balls into the crowd and watch them soar - fun at a women's conference
 My small part in the conference is a short "thank you" to the women's groups who donated money toward new ovens for our Indonesian kitchen. Movie night dinners used to take 1.5 days; with their help, the cooking has sped up to a half-day! Plus, these ovens get to 425o, rather than the old one's limit of 350o (on a hot day.)
Doris and I, fooling around

Jeremy and Rebekah join us from eastern Washington. He's our oldest - and she's a CPA in the middle of tax season. They're here for their niece's baby dedication tomorrow. That's true love for family.

The afternoon is spent catching up with connections and relaxing with family. Melissa makes supper - for a woman with 4 little kids, she's close to Wonder Woman in my eyes. It's late by the time we turn the lights out in the basement suite. We sleep soundly.

Read more:
*Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power’, and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:62
*See also Isaiah 50:4–9a; Psalm 31:9–16; Philippians 2:5–11; Mark 11:1–11
*Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise? Psalm 106:2 (NIV)
*The great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” John 12:12–13
Moravian Prayer: Almighty God, we celebrate your triumphant entry once again. Come anew into our hearts. Fill us with your love. May we long to shine your light to the whole world. Give us courage to seek ways to celebrate your story of love and forgiveness. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nothing but sunshine

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
What a beautiful sunny week it's been. My brother's birthday has come and gone. W and I left a goofy message on his phone. How grateful I am for wonderful brothers. All 3 are uniquely gifted, have their own interests, follow their own calling, and love their families. My parents gave us a marvelous gift by not comparing us to our siblings or other people. So each one of us has followed their own path. But we belong together and love each other. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

I've finally fallen asleep at 6:30am but I wake just before my alarm goes off at 10:30. I trudge around the suite until I get out the door.

The first meeting of the day brings together almost a dozen of us, another "band of brothers (and sisters). Each is working in a non-profit or community group. We share what's important to us now ... and who is doing meaningful work in the city. I'm inspired and the food at the Ram is good, too. Verlon picks up my tab and I am reminded how generous the tribe of faith can be.

After an hour at home, I hear a knock on the door. DeAnn is a friend who works in another part of Asia. She's a schoolteacher - English for Chinese speakers - who's home on a year's furlough.

The grandkids join us and love her. They pray for the kids whose pictures are on DeAnn's phone, and she prays a blessing over them, too. I feel so privileged to introduce the grandchildren to someone who inspires them to serve others.

It's suppertime when the kiddos head upstairs and my friend says goodbye. I have a few assignments and before I know it, the day is done - it's 10pm and time to read a few chapters and then get to bed.

I was going to head to Canada to visit my folks but Mom gives me the day off. I had headaches off and on all day yesterday, and they're worse today. So it's a relief to decompress instead of driving.

I get the flat cleaned up and get dressed to go to the library. I last about 2 hours but the pain begins to subside by evenings. I'm a baby when things really hurt - and I pop a pill for relief.

Kim and I enjoy a few minutes together before our friends start arriving. I've forgotten the Malaysian tea, put beside the door to take along for her.

It's a great reconnection morning with Sue, Terry, and ... the lady from the next table. (I'll call her Iris.) "What a blessing to have girlfriends to meet with," she smiles at us as she sets down her coffee.

So we invite Iris to join us at our table. She talks about her wonderful grandkids. She's a super-grandma, raising the youngsters. She needs the wisdom of Solomon. At the end of the conversation, Iris adds her prayer requests to ours. Sue asks Jesus for his help in all we have mentioned, and with hugs, we say goodbye and go into the day.

W is back in town by 3: he takes the train and bus ($5 from the airport) and texts me for pickup at the Kenmore library. He had a great trip, working with a theology commission in Missouri. He respects his peers who examine scripture and culture together. They respond to issues and write papers filled with academic and pastoral concerns.

We meet our friends in Issaquah, at a #1-rated Indian restaurant. W worked with Dan and Don for years at the university, so we have lots of catching up to do. Their kids and grandkids are growing and doing interesting things. We see the passing of the years as the kids get older.

We gals are still active at various things: travels, care of family, involvement in the community. They're so young at heart!

The food is good but oh so bland after the spicy Sundanese food of Bandung. I take one plate through the buffet, scoop mango custard into a dessert bowl, and I'm done.

At the local art co-op up the street, the residing artist comes out from behind the counter to chat. She's a believer and encourages us to serve God through the arts.

Kinsey comes for a piano lesson before supper. I put on my teacher hat and go through time signatures, metronomes, and hand position. I used to do this for fun as well as money (33 years of it.) Kinsey plays along. She likes the forehead sparkles I've brought her - and isn't she cute? (I think Disney may be modeling their princesses from her.)

I'm in an online community reviewing a new book and organizing system called #SimpleOrganizing. I post a picture of our tiny, absolutely functional kitchen. The oven and fridge were given to us as part of a friend's remodel and the IKEA cabinets were $500 on Craigslist. W puzzled it all together in my design and it's just enough. It still works beautifully.

I open an envelope with a dated stamp: Exp 2015. Ach, let's try it. I sprinkle the borscht powder into water and cook it. It's just as good as ever. And the rich beet soup hits the spot.

In the evening, my head is in full ripple - the spasms are affecting my neck because I am wincing. Stop it! W takes me for a massage at Joy Spa (2X the amount and half the length as our neighborhood masseuse: $35 for 1 hour here vs. $15 for 2 hours in Bandung.) The massage is good and I am pain free at the spa. The nerve twinges resume in the car. Oh well.

Read more:
*O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. Psalm 30:2
*The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
*Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12
*[When the man was healed, Peter said,] "Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12
*In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7
Moravian Prayer: Lord, give us a new desire to share witness to your amazing love. Dispel all fear and doubt and fill us with a greater willingness to be vulnerable. Grant us the courage to connect with our neighbors, and compassion to listen to them.
Lord, bless our churches. Use our faith communities as true vessels of your creative power. May we seek your direction and guidance with new passion. Lead us with your pure light. Allow a new awareness of your dream for us to unfold. In your name. Amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Face to face time

Bedtime stories
Friday, March 8, 2018
We wake in our own bed. That's always a treat. We chose to keep the house when we left Seattle. The family of one of our kids lives upstairs and for us, the basement suite is a quick-to-clean and welcoming space. It's big enough to have people over and small enough to stay uncluttered. That is, when we put everything away.

Last night, the 3 older grandkids (6, 4, 2) wanted a sleepover. Looking at our calendar, there aren't that many open nights, so we had storytime, play 101 Dalmations (with attending screams as Cruella - moi - tries to skin the puppies as they jump from couch to table.) The kids fell asleep after 9, and woke this morning before 6. It's great to have time together. One kiddo talks constantly while sleeping and I'm a light sleeper. Oh well, W sleeps soundly - and I not at all. I make breakfast and upstairs they go because I have planned a morning treat for myself.
Our calm place to relax and feel at home
My treat? Julia and I meet for tea in Kirkland. This dear friend and I decompress and catch up on life - our third writing mate, Marj, died last year. She's sorely missed.

Some of the sweetest times here are when the grandkids come down for a visit. Afterward, I think about our lives when we raised our 4 kids. I pick up the grands' little trucks, stuffed animals, and games from the floor and behind the furniture. When everything is put away, I shudder at the mess I lived in while raising children. I never could get my act together enough to have a tidy house. And clutter undoes me completely; I can barely function. So I wonder what it was like for our kids, growing up in that chaos.

In the evening, friends Paul and Laura host a gathering. One of the couples used to live in Indonesia and went to language school in Bandung. They remember a lot about the city and have a photo album of their time, years ago.

Everyone shares their adventures; it's been years since we all met. Then W and I tell them something about the life we live overseas. It's great fun to sit around a table and hear how God cares for us and others. (W takes pictures on his phone and I forget to send them to myself immediately, which is why there are none here.)

W is off to coffee, so I tidy up and write an update to our partners. We are speaking together next weekend, so I have to write out what we want to say. We practise it together and it begins to morph into our actual talk. I also write a grant proposal - which gets lost when the computer closes down. Ugh.

On my way back from errands later in the day, I park the car along the street and walk a mile or more. The crocuses are just starting to bloom and a few daffodils poke out of the ground.

There's a Little Free Library on the street, so I snag a few novels to relax with in the coming days. I'll put them back before we go back home.

At 7am, we head 80 miles (130km) north to Bellingham. We haven't seen roads this empty since the last time we were on the West Coast.

It takes us 1.5 hours to drive to Hillcrest Chapel, where we enjoy worship and a talk by Christian Lindbeck. After, we have lunch at a great burger joint with Anh Johnson and Christian, catching up with what God is doing here and there.

Christian suggests we drive along the coastal road, adding a few minutes of stunning NW landscape to an otherwise boring freeway travels. The water glistens in the sunlight - we have had excellent sunny weather most of this trip to the Northwest.

I've been looking forward to this morning visit for months. Patti hosts us at her place, having moved back recently from California. The others are moving and in transition, so we have lots to talk about.

The beautiful setting is a refreshing boost. The food is delicious and healthy. I am reminded how most women process their lives with old friends. At this age, we're all caring for others and living many adventures along the way. One of the things I do and don't miss, not being fluent in Indonesian, is the level of detail in conversation. W and I tend to be more direct and to the point with our limited language skills over there. With fluency, we can describe and understand every emotion and process.

I have to head back so W can go on his appointments in the afternoon. He calls mid-afternoon to ask about whether we want to have a Happy Hour supper (cheaper smaller portions) at a local restaurant. I immediately think of Rich, who lives nearby. I send him a message, hoping we can see him. He calls us back and meets us in Bellevue. We stand in line for a half hour before catching up at the table.

Then we stroll through the mall together. W needs a new battery in an old watch from the Apple store, and it has taken them a few hours to install it. The guys chat while I pass through a few favorite shops. There's not a thing I want. Goods are costly, while our budget and luggage are limited. My eye lingers on a sweater-coat so I check the price tag. Um. No. $1400. Definitely no. My taste seems as expensive as ever.

We are home by 8pm and headed for bed. Lights go out by 10, but I suddenly get sharp stabbing pains in my scalp behind my right ear. "What on earth?" The fork-thrusts in my head are 12 seconds apart with an occasional skip. They last until 1:30am, when I can't stand it anymore. I raid W's "medicine" drawer up for a headache pill and gulp it down with some tap water. Tap water! drinkable. Seems incredible to us. I finally fall asleep.

The alarm goes off at 2:45am. One of our dumber ideas has been to have me drive W to the airport at 3, instead of him catching the airport van. I throw on a coat, grab my handbag, and he slings his 2 carryon bags over his shoulder. He drives us to SeaTac on the empty freeways. My head is throbbing to beat the band. We're too tired to exchange more than a few words on the way and a hug goodbye when I drop him off.

I drive back, trying to manage the pain. We saved a few dollars, had an extra hour together in the middle of the night, and I've lost 3 hours of sleep. My headache is utterly debilitating again.

I am wide awake when I get home at 4:30am. I decide to write until the second round of meds kick in. (It must be a family trait to work when we're sick. My mom used to clean the chandelier and polish silver when she had migraines. I'm a writer, so I write when I'm under the weather.) I rarely get headaches or use meds, so I'm whining to myself. After 6am, I finally ram earplugs into my ears and put on a facemask to keep light out. I lie in bed and think about sleep.

Oh wait. I have a noon meeting, which means setting another alarm for 10:30.

Read more:
*The Lord drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:2

*Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9 NIV
*Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” John 5:25
Moravian Prayer: Lord, we seek assurance of your grace in our lives. Even when we do not notice, your grace is at work in us, through us and around us. Allow your grace to unfold fully. In Jesus’ name. Amen.