Category Archives: Thankfulness

Semicentennial Photoblog

Every once in a long while, a person reaches a milestone of importance. People graduate from various schools, achieve promotions, invest in important relationships, and generally press ‘further up and further in’ (as C.S. Lewis would say) as they make their way through life.

I've always liked Lewis' Last Battle, in spite of the troubling theological implications.

I’ve always liked Lewis’ Last Battle, in spite of the troubling theological implications.

For all my seeming potential, my life has been somewhat lacking in distinction. I graduated from college after nine years and only by the skin of my teeth, and I’ve achieved only modest promotions in my career. I did manage to acquire a beautiful and talented (trophy?) wife and five awesome children, but it is hard to say how much of that redounds to my personal credit. If there has been any consistent pattern to my life, it is that I’ve generally benefited from the achievements of others and stood on their shoulders.

You've got to admit, I did have lots of potential, if nothing else.  (That's me on the right.)

You’ve got to admit, I did have lots of potential, if nothing else. (That’s me, stalwart, on the right.)

But the relentless march of time ensures that certain milestones come to every person, if they can manage to simply survive, and so yesterday I celebrated my 50th birthday. There are many who were surprised by this, since I was voted “Most likely to be killed by a low-flying blimp” in several student publications.

My ancient foe, seeking another victim.

My ancient foe, seeking another victim.

Since Kathy is away in Michigan, caring for her Mom in her convalescence, I was left to my own devices to celebrate the big day (or so I thought). Little did I know that Kathy’s arm is as long as her minions are resourceful.

Not Kathy's actual minion horde.

Not Kathy’s actual minion horde.

The day started in a promising way — Tina R. offered to drive the JNROTC boys both ways, as a birthday present. Since David and Will’s Drill Team meets at 0-dark-30, this was a significant sacrifice, and it allowed me to sleep in for an extra 3 hours of burrowed bliss. Eventually, I showered and rushed off to church to pick up a meal that Nicole O. made for David and me, since it is a known fact that neither of us can do much more than boil water. En route, I received a cheerful call from my oldest daughter, who wanted to be the first to officially wish me ‘Happy Birthday’. It was so good to hear from her, and to be encouraged by the way God is blessing her ministry among the freshmen, there at college.

Arriving home, I discovered that Kathy’s minions had made a breakfast delivery in my absence. Breakfast biscuits, hash browns, Diet Coke and orange juice … and (most importantly) a goodly stock of Nutella!

Breakfast of Champions, albeit not especially long-lived champions.

Breakfast of Champions, albeit not especially long-lived champions.

As David and I happily munched our breakfast sandwiches, I confided: “This is going to be a good day, I can tell.” (Some people probably think that my intuitive prescience is legendary.)

I decided to open the huge birthday present that had arrived the day before. It turned out to be a really nice pressure-washer, just what I had wanted (but had not really expected or hoped to receive)!

My actual pressure washer, rated at a respectable 2030 PSI.

My actual pressure washer, rated at a respectable 2030 PSI.

Soon I got word that my namesake nephew and his bride and toddler would be joining me for dinner — a dinner that I was now able to host, thanks to Nicole’s generosity! Next, I heard from Peter, who wanted to take me out for a birthday lunch. I managed to persuade him and John to come to my house for lunch instead, since I hoped to draft them into assembling my pressure-washer.

I even put out a tablecloth to lend a certain dignity to this auspicious day.

I even put out a tablecloth to lend a certain dignity to this auspicious day.

Whipping up a salad, sharing the Shepherd’s Pie that my Mom made for me, and breaking out the Black Forest birthday cake she thoughtfully created, we sat down to enjoy a hearty and delightful lunch. Determined to treat me to some kind of lunch, Peter kindly brought me take-out Panang Curry from a nearby Thai restaurant, which I lovingly stored in the fridge for a rainy day. Rainy Fall days come pretty often in Western Washington.

John needed to build up his strength for the upcoming engineering work in assembling my power-washer.

John needed to build up his strength for the upcoming engineering work in assembling my power-washer.

Once Peter and John had successfully assembled my pressure-washer under my critical eye, I leapt into action on the driveway. Although ten years of moss and embedded grime cannot be easily erased, I feel that I made some significant difference with my first pass. I’m excited to try it on the back patio, which is covered in moss.

One of these sides is different from the other; I hope you can tell which.

One of these sides is different from the other; I hope you can tell which.

Exhausted from my labors, I sat down and spent more than an hour reviewing Facebook birthday wishes including a particularly amusing and touching video presentation by Daniel, and a sweet email from Sarah, my youngest daughter. Then I briefly played my computer game until it was time to drive David around town. (David seems to require a lot of transport, these days; I think it is a plot to incentivize us to allow him to drive as early as possible.)

How many cake decorators can spell out the age of the celebrant in sweet cherries?  Pretty much only my Mom, I think.

How many cake decorators can spell out the age of the celebrant in sweet cherries? Pretty much only my Mom, I think.

Timothy, Sunny and John Mark arrived around 5:30, and we sat down to a delightful meal of pineapple chicken and stir-fry, followed by more Black Forest cake. Noticing our sink full of dishes, Sunny kindly emptied and then refilled the dishwasher, while Timothy vainly tried to keep pace with John Mark as he dashed around, looking for trouble. I looked on with my best “I’m helpless and besides, it’s my birthday” facial expression.

I’ve been practicing that facial expression for days in the mirror, and I must say, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Somehow I neglected to get a picture of Timothy and Sunny and John Mark -- here is one from earlier this Summer, instead, with a bonus cameo of my brother and his lovely bride.

Somehow I neglected to get a picture of Timothy and Sunny and John Mark — here is one from earlier this Summer, instead, with a bonus cameo of my brother and his lovely bride.

With John Mark loudly declaring he was ready for bed, Timothy and Sunny decamped, and were soon replaced by Don, Jeff, Peter and John, who came for games (and more Black Forest cake). In a surprising burst of birthday generosity, they even permitted me to win the game (we played Chaosmos).

Round up the usual gaming suspects.

Round up the usual gaming suspects.

It was a pretty good day. It makes one almost want to live another 50 years, if only in hopes of securing another such celebration.

Truth be told, I am very thankful. Thankful to so many who helped to make this a memorable and satisfying birthday, and thankful to my Sweetie for engineering much of it from afar. Most of all, I’m thankful to my God, who has given me breath and sheltered me in His hand, all these years.

Project 365, Day 282
Tim

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A Hint of Summer

We’ve had such a mild and dry Spring, it is hard to believe we live in Western Washington. Where are the Incessant Rains™ of March and April? Why did we have to water our lawn in May? What is the world coming to, when the first weekend in June is forecast with temperatures in the mid 80′s?

Showcasing the new fence.

Showcasing the new fence.

Back East, they turn on air conditioning in May, and June is hot and muggy. But here, we are unlikely to see any Summer weather before July 4th. Except for July and August, when the sun comes out, Washingtonians know to get out and appreciate it. After all, this may be the only vitamin D we get, that doesn’t come from a jar of pills.

It's official:  David is taller than Rachel.  But what about Sarah?

It’s official: David is taller than Rachel. But what about Sarah?

I broke out my short-sleeve shirts last weekend; it looks to be a hot Summer. Maybe my tomato plants will recover from their sulks and actually produce a crop before October.

Auditioning to be Flower Girls ...

Auditioning to be Flower Girls …

Walking with David down our street in the cool of the evening, watching the blue sky fade to lavender, I am very thankful for the way that God designed our world, and for designing my eyes to be able to appreciate the incredible colors he created.

Project 365, Day 155
Tim

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Goodbyes are Hard

One of the joys of living in a military community is the amazing friendships you have the opportunity of enjoying. The beautiful, unique, special people who come into your path.

A sister friend.

A sister friend.

One of the greatest sadness of living in a military community is how those same people – those ones you’ve come to call dear friends – leave your path.

I still remember the first time some of our close military friends were moved to another state. The children were devastated.

“I’m NEVER going to love someone whose dad is in the Army again!” One of the children declared fervently. “It hurts too much to be their friends.” Silently I agreed.

But our hearts are meant to love. And the Lord has placed us in this city, going to an incredible church, full of military families.

And so we say hello and we welcome new people. And we love and, sometimes, too often, we say goodbye.

Today we went to a going away party for a beautiful family that we have grown to adore. Cynthia and I have spent the past two years meeting regularly as part of the mentor program. We have laughed, prayed, encouraged and shared DEEP struggles. Although Cynthia called me her mentor, she blessed me more than I can express. She lifted me up during some of the dark days of my parenting struggles, and she understood a lifelong battle that I’ve faced in a way that few people do.

Sweet family!

Sweet family!

These children have been part of our Sunday School class. They have served weekly with us in AWANA. They have thrown their energies into memory work, Tim’s drama program, and growing more like Jesus.

And so, when I feel a clenching of my heart, and I know I am saying goodbye to a family that I have grown to love, and a woman who has encouraged me to be a better wife, mother and Jesus follower, I stop and Praise God for the hearts and stories He is weaving into our family’s tapestry.

And I cling to the truth that we are called to stay here and be a secure resting place for those who come along. We keep our hearts open. We love freely and generously. We don’t hold back because loving and saying goodbye hurts. We let roots go deep because we know friendship is more than just living in the same city. We celebrate the pieces of our hearts that will travel to different reaches of the world. And we honor these families who have sacrificed so much to serve our country.

We will miss you, M. Family!!

Project 365 – Day 150
Kathy

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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.
Tarah:
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
Kathy

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A Thankful Commute

I’ve been thinking, lately, about the many blessings from God that I take for granted, and even (in some cases) despise. One of them is the bus and train that bring me to my office in Seattle and (hopefully) home again.

When either the bus or the train is late, and I miss my connection, I’m quick to fuss and berate the mass transit system. When I have to stand more than ten minutes, waiting for my bus, I am quick to complain. If I have to stand for the 20-minute bus ride, I am quick to grumble against the swarms of other passengers. When I think about how long it takes me to get to and from work, I’m quick to consider myself a martyr.

Faithful number 217, with a driver who almost always greets me with a cheerful "Hello!"

Faithful number 217, with a driver who almost always greets me with a cheerful “Hello!”

But do I thank God for the men and women who drive my bus and operate my train? Am I appreciative of the relative ease with which I am transported? Am I grateful for the pre-paid transit pass that my employer provides, so the entire trip costs me not a penny?

Not very often, I’m afraid. So, let’s make a change.

The north end of my Sounder train, shortly before it whisks me home.

The north end of my Sounder train, shortly before it whisks me home.

Thank you, God, for the faithful bus drivers who get up at all hours to drive my bus. Thank you for their patience and care in dealing with the maniacal drivers, so I don’t have to. Thank you for the many people who labor on the buses and trains to make sure they don’t break down. Thank you for my employer, who foots the bill for my transit pass. Thank you that I have a job to which to commute, and thank you that the other passengers are generally courteous.

Thank you, God, for loving me and for providing a way for me to get to work.

Project 365, Day 62
Tim

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