He is Risen, Indeed!

We spent most of the day at The Refuge, visiting my parents. Daniel got up and went to the early service, and then David and Sarah volunteered at church during the middle service. (This was in response to the “Sit One, Serve One” initiative — our church had five Easter services, two on Saturday evening, and three today).

Kathy and I stayed home, having been to one of the services last night. Kathy had a bunch of food items she wanted to contribute to the feast, so we spent a couple of hours assembling those dishes. Then off to the Duckabush!

Arriving at the Duckabush, this was the sight that greeted us at the top of the driveway.

Arriving at the Duckabush, this was the sight that greeted us at the top of the driveway.

We had a lovely visit — feasted on ham and lamb and a host of other things. We chatted with my folks, helped them get their new cellphone set up, and even had time to film some of David’s student government commercial. It was sad not to have Joshua and Rachel with us, but I hear that they spent time with Aunt Liz and the cousins, so they were not neglected.

Mom made her traditional lamb cake for dessert, which was warmly appreciated.

Mom made her traditional lamb cake for dessert, which was warmly appreciated.

Now we’re home again, and the new week starts tomorrow — back to work, back to school, back to regular life.

At lunch, my Dad asked this question: “What difference does it make to you, that Jesus rose again from the dead?”

We spent quite a bit of time talking and thinking about that. I guess it is no surprise, that one of the not-so-secret code phrases that Christians around the world exchange at Easter is:

“He is Risen!”

“He is Risen, indeed!”

If Jesus did not rise, then we would have no assurance of being resurrected ourselves. We would not know that God had accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as payment-in-full for our sins. We would presumably have no relationship with God, and no reason for hope.

But He is risen, indeed. So everything is different.

Project 365, Day 95

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Young and Old

Sometimes the cleaning falls on older, ahem, more experienced hands. And other times there is room for the younger generation to help.

David, Tarah, and Sarah - my cleaning crew!

David, Tarah, and Sarah – my cleaning crew today!

Poor Tarah, whenever she comes over, invariably we put her to work. I think, just once, she’d like to spend the night when the house is already clean. I can just imagine it:

Sarah: Hi, Tarah! What are you doing?
Tarah: Nothing, just watching tv. My mom’s out shopping.
Sarah: Oh, cool, do you want to come over? We’re hanging out.
Yeah! That sounds great. Oh wait, [stalling for time] I think I left something in your room last week. Did you find it?
Sarah: I did. It’s right by the front door. I found it a couple of days ago.
Tarah: Good. So, you found it…when you were, um, cleaning? You were cleaning your room? Like, it’s all picked up?
Sarah: Yeah, my mom made me clean it yesterday.
Tarah: Nice! I mean, oh, that’s a bummer. Moms are so annoying.
Sarah: I know. We had to clean the living room too.
Tarah: Really? So, like your house is all clean now?
Sarah: Yes.
Tarah: Wait, the whole house?
Sarah: Yes.
Tarah: The WHOLE house? I’m just curious. You know, cause I love to talk about cleaning. Like, is the kitchen clean? Did you do the dishes already?
Sarah: We did them this morning.
Tarah: Boy, your mom is making you work hard. Did you vacuum too? And dust? Just wondering.
Sarah: Wow, you’re really into the details today.
Tarah: Heh heh.
Sarah: We did the whole house. We just have the two bathrooms left to do.
Tarah: That’s great. You guys worked hard. Um, so when will you finish the bathrooms? I’m just asking.
Sarah: We have to work right now.
Tarah: Now, now? Not later, like when I get there? You’re doing it now?
Sarah: Yeah.
Tarah: Okay, I think I can come over.

Sarah to Me: Boy, Tarah really wanted to know how clean our house was before she came over. She doesn’t usually care if it’s clean or messy.
Me: That Tarah, what a kidder!
Sarah: Now that I think about it, I guess we did make her clean last time.
Me: [under my breath] You mean the last five times.

Too pretty a day to take pictures inside.

Too pretty a day to take pictures inside.

Thankfully Tarah is practically part of the family and doesn’t mind being one of the slaves helpers. Or at least, she hides it well and works cheerfully.

Besties for so many years!

Besties for so many years!

We got all sorts of things done today – vacuuming, dusting, loads of dishes (ran the dishwasher twice!), laundry, fresh sheets on at least three beds, all the surfaces tidied and put away, etc.

When Daniel came home he cleaned the upstairs bedroom and washed more dishes and even snuck in a quick haircut before we all went to the Saturday evening Easter service.

Thank you, kids, for working so patiently, cheerfully, and without any grumbling! You all are the best.

Tomorrow we will celebrate with Tim’s parents. So nice to have family in the area. We’ll miss Joshua and Rachel as well as aunts and uncles, cousins, and siblings who are in Michigan and Virginia and Georgia. Our thoughts will be with them. Wish we could be together!

Praises on this Easter Weekend!
Sunday is Coming!

Project 365 – Day 94

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Good Friday Roots

My Dad was an Army Chaplain, so my family moved around a lot when I was a kid. As I spent a few years in college, then a few years in the Army as an enlisted man, then a few more years in college, it seemed normal to me that I moved around a lot, too.

Washington born and bred, David knows only the Duckabush and our current home, but he is a snappy dresser.

Washington born and bred, David knows only the Duckabush and our current home, but he is a snappy dresser.

When Kathy and I were married, my first job was in Connecticut. After a few years there, we moved to the Detroit area, to be near Kathy’s folks. Five winters in Michigan was enough for me, and I convinced Kathy that we should move to Kirkland, Washington (in theory, to help with the establishment of the Refuge, a Christian retreat center my parents were building). Soon we built a home on the Olympic Peninsula, and moved again.

We lived nearly five years in the Duckabush valley, but I lost my job with AT&T Wireless, and we decided to move closer to ‘civilization’ when I started working at Amazon.com.

Sarah was only two when we moved to this house.  If we didn't visit, I'm not sure she would remember the Duckabush at all.

Sarah was only two when we moved to this house. If we didn’t visit, I’m not sure she would remember the Duckabush at all.

Now we’ve been here in Lakewood more than ten years — by far the longest time I have lived anywhere. And I’m discovering that putting down roots has its benefits.

I was sitting in our Good Friday service at church tonight, a few rows back from our usual row, but still on the aisle, which I strongly prefer. Communion was served at the front of the church, instead of by passing the plates, as we occasionally do for special communion services. We went forward early, since we shared a row with another family who was also not shy. Afterward, watching the other church members return to their seats after taking communion, something rather strange and heart-warming happened.

I began to notice how many people would meet my eyes and smile, or would take the time to shake my hand or punch me on the shoulder as they passed by. As an fairly extreme introvert, it is not uncommon for me to walk through a crowded room, and to avoid being greeted or speaking to anyone. At work, whole days have passed in which I have not spoken to another human being. (Admittedly, I work with engineers and programmers.)

We've made a lot of good friends, here at Lake City.

We’ve made a lot of good friends, here at Lake City.

It touched me strangely, to realize that my years here at this church have made me known in a way that I have never really been known before. One good friend slapped me on the back of the head when he passed by, while another greeted me by name. I pretended to trip several others, as they returned down the center aisle. One of the ushers took the time to shake my hand as he passed forward. Our pastor touched my shoulder as he walked behind me (he was sitting with the congregation tonight, since one of the elders was preaching). Even after the service, there seemed to be a significant number of people who were genuinely glad to see me and wanted to talk with me.

Fortunately, no one wanted to use me as a climbing wall, as happened to some.

Fortunately, no one wanted to use me as a climbing wall, as happened to some.

I really love being part of the family of God. I imagine that is how Heaven will be, 24×7 — people greeting one another and joking with each other in joyful fun, enjoying an intimacy deeper than the closest of families.

She's a little young for Daniel, but she might be worth the wait, if we could afford her dowry.

She’s a little young for Daniel, but seven-year-old Zoe might be worth the wait, if we could afford her dowry.

Until then, I think I could do a lot worse, than to be warmed by the love and kindness of my current church body.

Project 365, Day 93

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We Bless When We Serve

One thing I love about Facebook is all the (crazy, inspirational, funny, thoughtful) articles people share. Seriously, I could get lost in cat videos, parenting stories, and delicious looking recipes. I have to admit though, I avoid political diatribes and controversial news stories. Sorry, I’m more of a “happily ever after” girl.

Love the pink flowers starting to bloom in my yard.

This is the only Project 365 picture taken today – the rest are from April 1st. Full disclosure and all that.

Today I read a blog post from The House of Hendrix about some amazing women who gathered around a friend who was in chronic pain. They showed up at her house (in their pj’s no less), cleaned it from top to bottom, filled the fridge with food, and taped up verses and words of encouragement on cabinets and mirrors.

Bless those women. And bless that blogger for sharing their story (complete with silly pictures). Because when we share our stories of love and hope and encouragement, we multiply the joy. We identify the struggle (being in pain, suffering, pride, not wanting to ask for help) and we see ourselves in the serving (giving of ourselves to bless those we love, laughing, joining in community and sisterhood). And we are inspired to serve those in the world around us.

The women in our Bible study.
The couple in our Small Group at church.
The moms in our MOPS group.
The neighbors we don’t know very well.
The friends we’ve had for years and years.
The new friends we’ve just made this year.
The family in our homeschool co-op.
The friends our children make at school.

When I reflect on how incredibly I’ve been blessed – a sweet card in the mail, an encouraging text message, a FB instant message thanking me, a freezer meal, an offer to babysit my kids, and on and on and on – I remember (once again) that the Lord places us in families and communities and church bodies to LOVE and SERVE each other. That joy and encouragement and hope are too vast and grand and wonderful to keep to ourselves.

Love these women!

These are just a few of the beautiful women I am honored to call friends!

When I read that blog post today, I realized I have those type of friends in my life. On Wednesday a few moms planned to gather at the park. As the kids and I were climbing into the car, getting ready to leave, the previously cheerful and sunny day turned grey and cloudy. By the time we reached the parking lot at the park, it was pouring. As I joined two other moms, it literally started hailing!

The messages started flying –
It’s pouring! What do we do? What? It’s raining? I haven’t left my house yet. What do we do? Panic!!

And so on.

I quickly offered my house. Oh dear, and then I did a little counting. Potentially 12 kids, my house, a rainy day and a garage that is currently packed to the ceiling with mess (hey, it’s on my list, I’ve been busy). A few seconds later, I threw another friend under the bus and offered her house to the group. What can I say, I panicked. Before anyone could answer, I grabbed my phone and hurried to call her and see how she felt about me offering up her house as a sacrificial party place. That conversation went something like this:

Me – Heh heh, so how do you feel about us coming to your house?
[Pause pause]
Me – Or we could totally go to my place. It’s just your house has more room for rowdy, crazy, cooped up banshees who wanted to go to the park and are now stuck inside kids.
[More pausing]
Me – [trying to convey a cheerful, spirit over the phone.]
Friend – That’s fine. I’m not home and the house is a mess, but you all can go over. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
Me – Yay! You are the BEST! [deliberately ignoring any hints she might be giving that we should go to my house instead]

I said we shouldn't give the boys weapons, but no one listened.

I told them not to give the boys weapons, but no one listened.

I sent the word out that we were moving the play date from the PARK to a HOUSE and off we went. Well, please, this group of women knows how to deal with a house that is a little (or even a lot) messy. We got right to work. One of the teens swept the floor. Two others put away shoes and tidied the entry way. I washed a sink full of dishes. One of the boys took out the trash. Two moms tackled the kitchen table and counter tops – cleaning, washing, and wiping down the surfaces.

Grace, Julia, Sophia, and Caden are hard workers!

Grace, Julia, Sophia, and Caden are hard workers!

By the time our hostess returned, we had just put the finishing touches on the dishes and started the dishwasher. One of the moms had planned ahead and had a carafe of hot coffee and three types of creamer set out (complete with cups and sugar) on the counter. What can I say, we are that kind of awesome.

Emma and Sarah took some time to relax.

Emma and Sarah took some time to relax.

I think we decided the non-park party was a hit. In fact, we rapidly realized we needed to take turns hosting. And we should only host on days when we have plenty of dirty dishes to wash and counters that need to be cleaned. Which frankly is pretty much every day, so I think our plan is a good one.

Daniel found some reading material.

Daniel found some reading material.

The greatest lesson for me was to see, once again, what a joy it is to serve. In this case we were able to bless this sweet friend who opened up her home to us, even though she was weary and her kitchen was full of the signs of a busy life. It was a privilege to come and take a little bit of the burden off of her shoulders.

Grace isn't sure why the moms are so silly.

Grace isn’t sure why the moms are so silly.

As the scriptures say so beautifully –

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Project 365 – Day 92

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We went out to dinner to celebrate Daniel’s new job at our favorite Thai restaurant about 20 minutes away. It is well worth the drive — they make the best Panang Beef, Cashew Chicken, Phad See Ew, and Phad Thai in the area (our favorite dishes). As an added bonus, they make delicious fresh spring rolls (which Kathy really enjoys).

Kathy, David, Sarah and I had speculated at some length as to whether Daniel would prefer to have dinner at Chili Thai or Red Robin, but in the end we all agreed that he would choose Chili Thai (and of course, he fully realized our expectations). However, as so often happens, this simply raised another question: what would Daniel order?

It is always fun to celebrate the blessings that God brings into our lives, especially at Chili Thai.

It is always fun to celebrate the blessings that God brings into our lives, especially at Chili Thai.

Traditionally, Daniel prefers Phad See Ew, with its broad noodles and sweet, smoky flavor. But ever since he traveled to Thailand last summer, he has been favoring Phad Thai. Sure enough, when we got to the restaurant, he was very conflicted.

“Should I order the Phad See Ew, or the Phad Thai?” he agonized, an expression of real pain on his face. Clearly, the idea of not having one of the two was very distressing to him.

“One or the other,” I reproved. “I’m only paying for one.” My generosity has its limits, after all.

Ultimately Daniel decided to go with the Phad See Ew, and hoped to trade with David and Sarah (who invariably set their faces like flint against anything that is not Phad Thai).

But when our meal arrived, we were shocked and surprised (and somewhat delighted) to receive an extra plate of Phad Thai. The waiter apologized and began to take it away, but I can recognize serendipity when I see it. Sometimes the hand of God moves, and it seemed obvious to me that God wanted to honor Daniel with an extra order of Phad Thai.

Daniel had already shared some of his Phad See Ew with everyone at the table, so I don’t think any of us begrudged him the extra helping. I can imagine God chuckling to Himself, and nudging one of the angels. “Just wait ’til you see his face, when he realizes he doesn’t have to choose between Phad Thai and Phad See Ew.”

Sometimes the best way to make a choice between two good options is to choose both.

Sometimes the best way to make a choice between two good options is to choose both.

I did end up paying for the extra order, but I don’t begrudge the restaurant or picking up the tab for God’s generosity to Daniel. God has certainly picked up the tab for me, many times more than once. :)

Congratulations on the new job, Daniel!

Project 365, Day 91

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