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Finding Joy

Finding Joy

What I Learned in the Thankful Month

December 5, 2016

Lumiere (light):

Who doesn’t love lights?

Lighting sets a mood, it blankets an environment with soft ambiance.

Here is an idea from the “making Lemonade” website. (I think you will love Carrie’s ideas for decorating with Christmas lights)

Using a quart-size Mason Jar, drop the battery pack of a tiny string of lights to the bottom of the jar and cover it with twinkle, or jingle or a burlap square – something that compliments your theme.  Tape the other end of the string of lights to the underside of the lid.

Surround the lit jars with a garland swag or branches from your backyard. Add a few pine cones (paint the tips with Elmer’s and dust with glitter first) and Voila!

On the Nightstand:

I just finished the book Choose and Choose Again, the brave act of returning to God’s love, by Kevin Butcher. I started reading it and finished it within one week.

Kevin Butcher is a pastor in downtown Detroit. The story is about his journey into the fullness and freedom of the healing power of the love of God our Father. I recommend this book, on so many levels.

Which leads me to the quote of the month:

“All children want to love their fathers – and to have fathers who love them in return.” Dr. Paul C. Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless

Does this ring true with you? Are you searching for his love?

If you missed my 31 day series, “Forgotten or Chosen?” you can find it here. It’s the story of my journey searching for my father and finding the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father.

Drip Coffee or French Press?

I recently learned, next to drip coffee makers a French press is the easiest way to brew a fresh cup of coffee. We have a small and large French press and use it often.

The key to avoid bitter tasting coffee or coffee sludge at the end of your cup? Grind the coffee beans correctly. You need relatively big but evenly-sized grains of coffee. A burr grinder (hand grinder like the kind our grandmothers used) works so much better than a blade grinder.

I’m on a mission to unpack the box that holds my grandmother’s – or great-grandmother’s? – coffee grinder with the hand-crank and little box that pulls out. The last time I saw it I noticed it still smells like coffee.

I am reminded, especially at this time of year, of all I have to be thankful for. Starting each day naming what I am grateful for, changes my attitude but also my perspective. 

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Finding Joy

Encouragement and Hope in the Scenic Route

July 16, 2016

“We get so focused on then and there, we don’t enjoy here and now. When was the last time you exited the freeway? Took the scenic route?” Mark Batterson, in his book If.

I’m reading the soon-to-be released book, The Happiness Dare, by Jennifer Dukes Lee. My happiness style is Experiencer, I have “the enthusiasm of a child and a deep sense of wonder.Go here if you want to take the test yourself! However, my natural bent to stop and smell the roses often struggles with the planner beast in me, when I let a to-do list determine the course of my day.

Last week, after hiking with my husband and friends at Larch Mountain Crater, someone suggested a detour to the Vista House. I had seen it before, in fact it turns out we all had. However, I intentionally chose to trade my mental to-do list for the possibility of what if? And the payoff – an hour of unfiltered sunshine and casual conversation on the edge of a cliff overlooking the stunning Columbia River and one majestic mountain in the distance.

What did the steady stream of people from faraway places see on that crowded viewpoint? Do you take for granted the beauty you see every day?

Is my day so focused and so driven that I experience life with blinders on? Or do I pause long enough to see what God wants me to see? God has divine opportunities planned for me, I don’t want to miss this!

He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” Isaiah 50:4. Like the hopeful words of Isaiah, I’m trading my plan for his, and can’t wait to see where he takes me next.

“Happiness isn’t about what we hold in our hands, it’s about what we hold in our hearts,” Jennifer Dukes Lee, The Happiness Dare.

Finding Joy

How To Develop a Deep Knowing Between People

June 18, 2016

Grandma Ness reminded me of the ladies in the shoe department at the Bon Marche. Thick European accents, they wore solid colored skirts below the knee and sensible shoes, exuded a quiet strength and were probably always on time. Yet, there was something else about grandma and I noticed the twinkle in her eye.  Our relationship lacked the gift of time, time required to develop a deep knowing but I recognized glimpses of her past and knew she had dreams she called her own.

Grandma shopped at the best stores in downtown Seattle and I could always count on a package in the mail for my birthday. She didn’t just send a new dress or skirt but she included the socks or tights and a fancy coat that matched.

The scarlet lined, rabbit fur hooded jacket made four-year-old me feel like a princess. She gave this girl who dreamed about horses not a children’s book, but a real book all about horses to acknowledge my dreams. She noticed me and what made my heart skip a beat, she discovered my passion and made it important.

When I was a little older, but not much, I received a small, important looking box, that when opened revealed a dainty, silver-chained necklace linked to a deep-blue sapphire pendant. This special birthstone necklace made grade-school me feel pretty.

Other than my grandmother’s generosity and good taste, she remained a mystery to me, because days and months of time are needed to develop a deep knowing between people who belong to each other. Yet, I always knew the great sense of love she had for me, her first granddaughter.

Imagine my surprise when I found a post card she wrote to her mother in 1960, “I toured Squaw Valley where the Olympic Games were held. The building was very interesting. I keep wondering if I turned off the electric iron. Love, Anna”

The requisite sense of responsibility that shrouded women who grew up in her generation didn’t surprise me. What made my heart laugh was the humor in it, my grandma possibly expecting her mother to rush next door to check on the electric iron when she had already been gone for days by the time they received the post card. And the honesty of letting someone see her neurotic side, one who worried about being forgetful and irresponsible while traveling to new and exciting places. Grandma called the iron “electric” because she once used an iron that was very much the opposite of electric.

Then I found this black and white of grandma in a dark skirt, nylons and heeled shoes and wooly sweater, snapped next to a tall snow man. Did a once lost memory draw her to the snow again to reflect on snowy, childhood days? Did she pause for a moment to feel who she once was, and who she still was, on the inside? Is this what we do when we see more life lived than life left to live and memories have made our minds so full that remembering what we did today no longer matters?

Finding Joy

The sea, the sea….draws me

February 20, 2016

The sea draws me.

The glory of God is reflected in the great expanse of the sea, the cyclical crashing waves echo his name.

I learned to sail on a co-worker’s 35-foot Catalina sailboat. Rain or shine, we sailed on race days and became known as the estrogen crew. Yes, I knew it would be rainy and cold, it didn’t matter. I bought all the right gear and dressed for it.

Growing up on Puget Sound, our summers were spent at the beach. In between Budd and Henderson Inlets, we scoured the sand for shells and sea glass, tangled up in seaweed fights and lazy afternoons on air mattresses mesmerized by the swoon of the salty sea.

Cousins captained a small row boat and fast boats with skiers jetted by, waiting in anticipation for residual waves. The waters were our text book, revealing every color of jelly fish and bright orange sea pens, closely resembling the male anatomy.

Rainy afternoons gathered us around the wood stove with Richy Rich and Archie and Jughead in hand. Our moms savoring cups of coffee near the picture window, fitting a 1,000 puzzle pieces back together and contemplating the puzzles of life.

I’ve never been far from the sea and I’m grateful I’ve always been surrounded by God’s love.

God draws us in like the sea.

The great expanse of God’s love for all of us amazes me. Yet, he knows each crashing wave in our individual lives.

It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. Jeremiah 31:35a NLT

For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord. Habakuk 2:14 NLT

Finding Joy

Riding Down Mount Haleakala

November 21, 2015

I see God.

The van struggles to make the last leg of the steep ascent up Mount Haleakala. The remnant of a low lying cloud lingers before the arrival of the morning sun and leaves a soft mist on my face. It’s chilly now but I’ll soon be peeling off layers during the 24-mile descent down the mountain.

Pairs of bicyclists leave and I close my eyes, breathe in and slowly exhale and wait, for a quieter, slower pace riding alone. After the van and the others leave I notice it – the stillness in the air is deafening. Alone, I pause to drink in the quiet. Gliding down the narrow, two-lane road I ride to the rhythm of clicking gears.

For a moment I think, riding alone, should I be fearful? I set aside the reality check in exchange for the gift that bicycling unwrapped for me as a child. Carefree summer days, a warm breeze brushing my short blonde hair across my freckled face… letting go of the handle bars and pushing the limits.

Another distant Hawaiian memory, studying in Honolulu for a semester and riding the “beach mobile” with my girlfriend on the handlebars, back and forth from the beach every day. And a familiar warm breeze brushing my light-brown hair across a 20-year old face, the pink strings of my bikini top flying in the wind.

Around the bend I see the first sign of life; cows grazing in a fence-less pasture near the side of the road. Will one amble into my path? They blissfully ignore me as I glide by.

Easing down the series of switchbacks and blind turns, I see a handful of houses, shacks really, that season after season have stood the test of time. Suddenly, an intoxicating smell overwhelms me, familiar but like nothing I’ve ever smelled in nature. A glance to the left reveals shadowy figures of Eucalyptus trees. The pungent, medicinal smell tickles my nose and my eyes water.

Farther on, I pull over to the side of the road, small swags of coffee beans dangle just above my shoulder. I gather a few dark red cherries for a closer look after my ride. An old sign catches my eye, boasting of Hawaiian coffee and my interest peaks. I walk my bicycle up a path where creamy petals of island plumeria line the trail. I savor the soft, sweet fragrance that stirs another familiar paradise memory.

At the top of the driveway battered, barn-red siding outlines an old storefront. I lean my bicycle against the front porch and open the squeaky screen door with the toe of my shoe. An older man with a dark, weathered face and a young mom and toddler sit inside at a table. A younger man behind the counter offers a “Mahalo” greeting as the screen door softly slams behind me.

“Where are you from?” “Visiting from the mainland, Washington State,” I replied. The older gentleman was seven years old at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The mom makes her living at a roadside stand closer to town selling coffee. I buy a bag of coffee and candied ginger and am on my way.

The descent gets steeper now with more switchbacks. Suddenly, I turn the corner to a stunning panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Leaning my bicycle against a tree, I scan the flat line of the horizon, amazed by the intoxicating scene. Camera shots won’t capture the paint-box blue sky reflected on the deep green water and twinkling white waves.

A rock bathed in sunlight begs me to linger, I flatten out and close my eyes; slowed breathing relaxes my soul. I see God, through all that he created. [Tweet that!]

I am the LORD God.
I created the heavens
like an open tent above.
I made the earth and everything
that grows on it.
I am the source of life
for all who live on this earth, so listen to what I say.
Isaiah 42:5 NLT

Finding Joy

Have You Ever Played Cards With a Vicar?

November 17, 2015

We walked our bicycles loaded with gear onto the Black Ball Ferry in Port Angeles. Our first stop was the cobbled streets of Victoria on the way to the Gulf Islands, just north of the San Juan Islands in Washington.

After exploring the city, we road north to the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal and sailed to Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island. It was a short ride to the Provincial Park to set up our campsite for the next three nights. The following day, we rode from one end of the long, skinny island and back again with a view of the sea on both sides of the narrow main road.

On Sunday, we attended a small church service at St. Margaret’s of Scotland. Sitting in original wooden pews, the early morning sunlight poured through aged leaded glass windows onto our bare legs and arms. We rode the ferry to Saturna Island where the terrain was hilly but beautiful. Long ago I discovered the saving grace of steaming hot coffee and doughnuts at the end of a ride.  It can keep you going when changing a flat tire in the rain or struggling with the painful ascent up a hill that keeps on giving. Trincomali Bakery was calling us. We sat in the sunshine eating warm pastries and marveled at the untouched beauty around us.

On the ferry ride back to Galiano, a vicar in a black suit and white tab collar sat near us. We invited him and his assistant to play a game of “Scum” and they accepted. The vicar traveled every Sunday between Galiano and Saturna Islands to preach at two parishes. What better way to pass time with a vicar than playing a card game based on the principles of ruthless American Capitalism?

The next morning we sailed back to Port Angeles, our bodies weary from riding and sleeping on the hard ground. Some stretched out on benches for a nap and others read or sat silently in thought. The quiet was soon interrupted by excited voices and pointing out the windows on the starboard side. I turned in the direction of the pointing to see a pod of Orcas swimming in the same direction, not far from the ferry.

The image of glistening, black bodies jetting in and out of the water in unison will stay in my memory forever. This mysterious marine mammal reminds me of how big God really is.

God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21 NET

I see God’s hand in creation and in all that is. Our invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [Tweet that!]


Finding Joy

Rainy Day Bicycling

November 14, 2015
Rainy day bicycling.
My friends and I often ride the Chehalis-Western trail from Lacey to Tenino or Rainier and back; round trip about 32 miles. Across the country, unused railroad tracks (Rails to Trails Conservancy) have been converted to bicycle pathways that walkers, runners and horseback riders also enjoy.

Connie and I have known each other for years and bicycle together often. Today, we met in the parking lot next to the trail, loaded up our gear, water bottles and compact bicycle pumps and headed out. About a third of the way into our ride it began to rain, just a sprinkle at first and then the drops fell as if poured from a pitcher. We rode through it, into the wind, our hair quickly soaked and even our shoes. Large rain drops dripped off my nose onto my upper lip.

Connie and I arrived in Rainier, cold and completely soaked to the point our shoes sloshed when we walked. We parked our bikes in front of the little grocery store. Inside we settled on bagels and cream cheese and ham on light rye with extra mayo. We paid for our lunch items and walked next door for a tall espresso coffee, extra hot.

The laundromat across the street was open. We walked our bicycles, lunch and coffee across the street. The place was empty so we brought our bicycles into the small waiting room and leaned them against the wall. We stripped everything off as far as we could and not be arrested for indecent exposure. Everything went into a big commercial dryer, including our shoes.

We settled into a pair of black vinyl chairs for girl talk, about life and how God was working in every issue. We prayed for each other and reminisced about old times, when we met in junior high school, previous bicycle rides, and tangled relationships.

We laughed remembering island hopping with our bicycles in the Gulf Islands in Canada and washing our hair in the sink on the ferry, reminiscing the familiar way only old friends can do. I was there during a cancer diagnosis, Connie was there during a painful divorce.  We gave support during the dark times and laughed until our sides hurt during happy times. We bicycled together in between.

When our clothes were dry we got dressed and wheeled our bicycles outside to start the long trek home. The sun shining on my face and arms warmed my insides, too. I looked up to see a rainbow, as only Washington weather can bring, and thanked God for my friend, bicycles and rainy Washington weather.