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.

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