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.

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